Stratford’s T.J. Deveaux, Cane Bay’s Matt Rudy and Hanahan’s Haven Horlback had all felt the sting of losses at state before they made the trip to Anderson last weekend.
And now all three know the euphoria that comes with capturing gold.
The trio represented the area well in the individual wrestling championships at Anderson Civic Center on Friday and Saturday, finishing first in their respective weight classes to erase memories of past shortfalls.
Deveaux, the 182-pound champ in Class AAAA, finished the season with a 32-0 record after beating Lexington’s Daniel Bannister 5-2 in the final.
Earlier, Deveaux had beaten Hillcrest’s Nygel Witherspoon 14-0 and Laurens’ Ryan Hughes 3-1 in overtime.
In his previous trip to state, Deveaux finished outside the top four.
Deveaux, a junior, became the second straight state champion for Stratford. Last season, Nicholas Young won the crown at 132 pounds.
Rudy, a junior, placed third each of the last two seasons at 182 pounds but rose to the top this winter at 195 pounds and finished the season with a perfect 36-0 record.
He defeated Hillcrest’s Landon Sayegh 3-1 in the Class AAAA championship match. He also defeated Laurens’ Austin Crocker 3-0 and Boiling Springs’ Scott Roudabush 3-1 at state.
Rudy is the first Cane Bay wrestler to win a state title.
Horlback, a senior, was fourth at 138 pounds last season but finished his career on the highest of notes on Saturday. He edged Eastside’s Cole Anderson 3-2 in the Class AAA championship match to end the season with a 40-8 record.
He also knocked off Belton-Honea Path’s Parker Peeples 2-0 and pinned Blue Ridge’s Jordan Mills.
Four other local grapplers were part of the final eight for their weight classes. Goose Creek’s Allen Moran placed fourth at 106 pounds and the Gators’ Christian Rubin was fourth at 152 pounds.
Goose Creek’s Caleb Rubin (160) and Cane Bay’s Paul McKeever (132) were state qualifiers but finished outside the top four.