With two victories Saturday, Eastside’s wrestling team is two victories away from returning to the state championship match.
The top-ranked Eagles, wrestling at home, rolled to wins over Lower Richland, 58-12, and then West-Oak, 57-9, in the first and second rounds, respectively, of the Class AAA dual playoffs.
“They were mentally prepared,” Eastside coach Jack Kosmicki said. “They’re wrestling hard. They’re very intense.”
Next up for the Eagles is a third-round match at home Monday against Palmetto, tentatively set for 7 p.m.
Against Lower Richland, Cole Anderson (126 pounds), Nick Fernandez, Clay Walker (138), Isaac Rogers (145), Michael Fernandez (182), Faud Serdah (195) and Zach Lake (220) all won by pin for Eastside.
The Eagles’ Will Thorpe (160) won by major decision, Zane Mitchell (106) and Tre Long (285) won by decision and Charlton Clark (120) won by forfeit.
In the second round, Eastside faced West-Oak, which eliminated the Eagles in the first round three years ago and in the Upper State final on its way to the state championship two years ago. This time, Eastside had the advantage.
“It was a good, quality win over West-Oak,” Kosmicki said. “The score doesn’t show it, but they’re tough. That’s a good, strong program.”
The highlight was produced by freshman Sebastian Blandon, a first-year junior varsity wrestler. When one of the Eagles missed weight, Blandon was inserted to prevent the team from taking a forfeit at 113, and he wound up pinning his West-Oak opponent.
“That was a feel-good-one for the dual,” Kosmicki said. “The sport is tailor-made for kids like that. You can be small and come out and be successful.”
Against West-Oak, Clark (126), Clay Walker (145) and Long (285) won by pin, and David Walker (120), Anderson (132) and Lake (220) won by major decision.
Thorpe (160), Michael Fernandez (182) and Serdah (195) won by decision, and Mitchell (106) and Rogers (152) won by forfeit.
Eastside won eight state championships in 10 years from 2000 through 2009, including six straight before West-Oak knocked the Eagles out in the first round in 2010.
“I was not happy to get them in the second round,” Kosmicki said, “but we got through it.”