gilbert wrestling

The Gilbert High School wrestling team with the SC High School League Class 3A runner-up trophy. Gilbert High School photo

The third time back in the SC High School League Class 3A wrestling final was not the charm for Gilbert High School Saturday at Dreher High School.

The Indians once again returned home with the state runner-up trophy after losing to an Upper State opponent. This time, it was Belton-Honea Path which came away with the 53-21 victory in the state final.

In claiming the school’s fifth state title, the Bears erased a 12-6 deficit with seven consecutive pinfall wins. Gilbert got two pinfall wins by Grayson Keisler (195 lbs.) and Brendon Boatwright (145 lbs.) and three decision wins by Kyle Decker (220 lbs.), Grayson Leaphart (285 lbs.) and Jackson Caulder (152 lbs.) to post their highest point total in three state title appearances.

“There’s a major gap difference between wrestling in the Upper State and Lower State,” Keisler said. “They kick North Carolina camps. North Carolina is really good in wrestling. Down here and due to (COVID-19) this year, you couldn’t wrestle anybody up there. So we were limited with our matches. We couldn’t get the mat time. If we could have gotten the mat time, I’m sure it would have been a different story.”

“I felt like we closed the gap a little big,” Gilbert head coach Mitch Hudson said. “We’ve still got a ways to go. There’s a lot more going on in the Upstate than down where we’re at and we’re trying to get there.

“We’ve got two guys that graduate on this team that are in the lineup. We’ve got four other seniors that are also graduating. We’ve got all of these guys coming back and we feel like we can close that gap even more.

“This year, especially, we’ve been limited mat time just like everybody else. To be here is an accomplishment. You still leave with that sour feeling, but that’s the thing. These kids will fight. They fight for each other. They do it for themselves. They do it for the school. It’s all you can ask.”

The Indians now turn their attention to the state individual wrestling tournament starting next weekend.

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