The Lakeside High School wrestling team wasn't able to win its own Black Cat Tournament last weekend, but second place never felt so good.
West Laurens High School scored 220 points to capture the nine-team event Saturday at the Lakeside gym; the Panthers posted 214 points to outdistance Butler High School, which totaled 93.50 points to place third.
Lakeside High School's Quinten Taylor (top) won his match against West Laurens opponent Sam Smith during the Black Cat wrestling tournament.
Photo by Mike Howell
The significance? Butler won the Region 3-AAAA championship last year, while Lakeside settled for second.
The Panthers earned their first region crown in 2000; when that title team was decimated by graduation, Butler took advantage in 2001.
But the large margin over Butler in the Black Cat indicates Lakeside could be ready to reclaim the throne.
"This year we don't have many seniors, so we're still a young team. But four of those seniors are starters in their weight class, and they're pretty strong," Lakeside coach Randy Hill said.
Blaine Carter is one of those seniors, and he strongarmed the competition to win the 215-pound weight class in the Black Cat.
Carter won a Region 3-AAAA title as an individual last season, and he says the Panthers are ready to return to the top as a team this season because of one reason.
"Experienced wrestlers - everybody knows what they're doing," Carter said. "We wrestled during the summer (with the West Augusta Wrestling Club), and we attended camp. We've got more knowledge this year. The freshmen have really stepped it up and we've got some good people back."
Lakeside also has a new addition - senior transfer student Justin Otis. Last year, as a member of the Lugoff-Elgin High School team, Otis won a South Carolina state title. He won all three of his matches to take the 152-pound weight class in the Black Cat tournament.
Senior Quinton Taylor also dominated in the Black Cat, sweeping three matches to win the 145-pound class. Chris Fontimayor went 2-0 to post a victory at 112.
All things considered, second place wasn't so bad, according to coach Hill. "West Laurens is a scrappy team. For us, this is definitely a rise from last year," he said. "We have some holes in a couple of weight classes, but we've got a good bunch that will carry us."
Lakeside High School results
103 weight class: Richard Fontimayor, second (2-1). 112: Chris Fontimayor, first (2-0). 119: Eddie Lee, fourth (3-2). 125: Jeff Garlington, second (2-1). 130: J.P. Dixon, second (2-1). 135: Rhett Carter, fourth (1-2). 140: Payton Gunn, second (1-1). 145: Quinton Taylor, first (3-0). 152: Justin Otis, first (3-0). 160: Cody Howard, third (4-1). 189: Russell Eberle, third (3-1). 215: Blaine Carter, first (2-0). 275: Tanner Richards, fourth (2-2).
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