Liberty wrestling wins Upper State

POWDERSVILLE — After a long and grueling day on the mats at Powdersville High School in the 2A Upper State championships, only region foe Crescent stood in the way of the Liberty High School wrestling team advancing to the State championship.

Crescent, led by region wrestler of the year B.J. Yeargin, gave the Devils all they could handle, but Liberty pulled out a 34-31 victory when freshman Matthew Frey avoided a pin in the final match of the evening, saving three team points, preserving the win and propelling his team to an appearance in the State championship match.

Against the Tigers, the Red Devils — who had beaten Ware Shoals, Pendleton and Indian Land earlier in the day — got a big win from junior Tanner Chambers, who knocked off Yeargin in the 182-pound match to provide a huge momentum boost in the competition.

“Had (Chambers) lost in the finals, we would have lost,” Liberty coach Dale Burrell said. “We defeated Crescent earlier in the season in a very similar dramatic fashion. We knew it would be close.”

In addition to Chambers’ win, the Devils got wins by team captains Dakota Stewart, Jacob Dismukes and Nathan Gilstrap, as well as victories from Darien Painter, Austin Bruce and Tristan Oglesby.

“Saturday was an emotional day,” Burrell said. “We wrestled hard, and I am proud of all of them.”

In addition to the battles on the mat, Liberty (35-3) was competing without the services of assistant coach Michael Connor, who had surgery the day before the Upper State championships.
Stewart, who has compiled a 44-3 individual record this season, is a North-South All-selection and one of five All-Region wrestlers on the squad, along with Chambers, Dismukes, Gilstrap and Painter.

The Devils, who won the Region I-2A for the first time in the program’s 24-year history this season, will travel to Dreher High School in Columbia on Saturday to take on Bamberg-Ehrhardt, which is looking for its third state crown in a row.