Former Stratford High School state champion Nick Young is in the middle of his first campaign at the helm of the Knights’ wrestling program.
After finishing a career at Newberry College, Young was an assistant for two seasons under longtime Stratford coach Willie Nearhood before Nearhood left for Cross High School to build a program there.
Young, who won a 132-pound state title in 2013, was more than eager to get handed the keys to the Stratford program. He learned the Stratford way in high school and is charged with passing it down now.
“Getting to take over a program at such a young age was a huge goal of mine, let alone being at my alma mater,” Young said. “I am following the footsteps of an amazing coach in Willie Nearhood, who has over 400 career coaching wins. He coached me when I wrestled at Stratford and he helped teach me the ways of being a head coach. I know I have huge shoes to fill but I am up for the task.”
The Knights won their Region 7-AAAAA opener on Jan. 9, 45-30, at James Island.
Lance Elrod (126), Preston Soriano (138), Jakel Simmons (152), Devin Squire (170) and Josh Phelps (HW) won matches by fall for the Knights.
Cody Kling (120) and Raven Kirkland (145) each won tight decisions by two points. Ray Roxas (160) earned a major decision and Landry Walker won at 220 by forfeit.
The Knights host Wando on Jan. 15. The Warriors are also 1-0 in the region with a win over Berkeley on Jan. 9. Stratford travels to Cane Bay on Jan. 21 and tangles with Berkeley on Jan. 23. They close out the region slate at Goose Creek on Jan. 29.
State playoffs begin Feb. 15.
“We’re young and new but if everything falls into place we can still make a decent run in the playoffs,” Young said. “I’m hoping the kids can get it to click in their brains they can do something.”
Over the weekend, Stratford was fourth in the Coach Trap Duals at Battery Creek. The Knights defeated Goose Creek, St. James, Philip Simmons and Battery Creek and fell to Rock Hill, May River and Eastside in the two-day event.
Soriano, a defending state champion for the Knights, finished 7-0 in the tournament and eclipsed 171 career victories to become the winningest wrestler in Stratford history. He has won 175 matches.
Cane Bay 54,
Goose Creek 25
Cane Bay began the Region 7-AAAAA slate with a win over Goose Creek.
Tristan Rivera (182), Taylor Rivera (220), George Cabrera (HW), Thomas Lee (132) and Jalyn McKeen (145) won matches by fall for the Cobras.
Carson Lucero (170), Lucas West (106), Jacob Simmons (113) and Logan Kira (120) won by forfeit for the Cobras.
Ethan King (126) and Jonathan Bryant (138) won matches by fall for the Gators. Sam Cohen (160) won by major decision and Allen Knight earned a decision at 152 pounds.
East Clarendon 9
Michael Grant (152) and Tyler Brown (182) won matches by fall for Cross in a non-region victory against East Clarendon on Jan. 8.
Cobras second in
Blue Devil Invitational
The Cane Bay wrestling team placed runner-up in a tournament at Dreher High School on Saturday.
Raleigh D’Antico (106) and Jacob Simmons (113) won their weight classes. Logan Kira (120) finished runner-up. Thomas Lee (132) and Jalyn McKeen (138) placed third. The Cobras host James Island on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.
The Cobras finished with 182.5 points. White Knoll won with 234.5 points.
Ashley Ridge was fifth with 137 points. Hanahan placed 20th with 51 points.
Kamryn Petrick (HW) and Weston Eadie (152) were third and fourth in their weight classes for Ashley Ridge.
Timberland seventh in Coach Trap Duals
The Timberland Wolves were seventh out of 16 teams in the Coach Trap Duals at Battery Creek on Friday and Saturday.
The Wolves went 3-3, defeating Hilton Head, Cross and St. James while losing to Rick Hill, Beaufort and Hartsville.
Timberland's best-performing wrestlers were Roman Wadford (6-1), Logan Kinard (6-1) and Dominick Milligan (6-1).