Liberty wins Pickens County duals wrestling championship

By Bru Nimmons
Sports Editor

EASLEY — A little over two weeks before they start their state championship defense, the Liberty Red Devils took to the mat last Friday for the Pickens County duals wrestling championship and earned a big victory over their three county foes.

“I was proud of the way our guys wrestled,” Liberty head coach Derek Harris said. “We used a lot of guys tonight so everyone that we brought got to wrestle. We’re winding down our season and I feel like we’re starting to peak at the right time.”

The Red Devils dominated the day picking up a 65-12 win over Daniel, a 59-22 victory over Pickens and a 62-15 win over Easley on their way to the championship.

Ian Valllecillo, JT Spence, Jonah Pierce, Brian Reed and Isaac Reece, all major contributors from the 2023 Class 2A state champion Red Devils picked up pins as the Red Devils completed the clean sweep of their county foes.

The victory was the first Pickens County championship for Harris after taking over for former Liberty head coach Dale Burrell this season. According to Harris, he’s been happy to see the team grow throughout the season.

“We started off in December with a lot of sickness and a lot of injuries,” Harris said. “We were battling that into early January, but I felt the later we have gotten into January, we’re really starting to be where we want to be.”

The championship win also proved to be a nice response after the Red Devils fell in a close region match earlier in the week to top-ranked Chesnee. However, Liberty knows it will see the Eagles down the line in the playoffs with a chance to avenge the loss.

“We came out of that match and felt like we were the better team,” Harris said. “Three points decided it, but that’s wrestling. It made the kids understand that every point matters and tonight, I saw them fighting for that last takedown for the major (decision) when they’re up by six. So, I can see it’s really starting to resonate with the kids and they’re starting to understand why we push them so hard.”

The Red Devils will begin their title defense when the Class 2A playoffs begin on Feb. 3.