Bengals Wrestle Their Way into State Tournament

Blythewood sophomore Mario Celso works a double-arm bar against an Irmo wrestler.

The Blythewood wrestling team qualified for the state playoffs with a strong showing at the region IV-4A duals Saturday. The Bengals defeated Richland Northeast 55-17 and powered through Ridge View 70-12. Irmo edged out a 41-39 victory over the Bengals. Blythewood was led by senior Ben Ruiz (147 lbs) with five victories including three decisions and one pin. The Bengals wrestling program has not made the playoffs since 2009 and have only made the postseason three times in their history. Blythewood head coach Paul Watson is excited about the progress his young team has made.

“Making the 4A playoffs is a step in the right direction,” Watson said. “With so many first-year wrestlers in our lineup we are very excited about what the future holds.”

Blythewood earned the fourth seed out of region IV-4A and will be saddled with the challenge of facing the state’s top seed, Lexington, this Saturday. With the competition looming, Watson believes his team is facing their toughest test of the season.

“We know they (Lexington) are the favorite to with the state championship,” Watson said. “It’s no secret. We just have to show up and compete and let them know that we belong in the playoffs.”

Wednesday Blythewood was slated to compete in the region IV-4A individuals’ tournament at Lugoff-Elgin. The top four wrestlers out of each weight class will advance to the 4A lower state individual tournament Feb. 15-16.

Below is Blythewood’s roster of individual wrestlers earning their way into the region tournament:

Sophomore Dimitri Gianopulos

Freshman Michellis Williams

Freshman Tyler Knotts

Sophomore Mario Celso

Sophomore Zack Colflesh

Senior Ben Ruiz

Junior Derek Lane

Junior Julian Lara

Freshman Ronald Parker

Senior Decius Sumpter

Sophomore Derrell Lane

Sophomore Randy Davis

Junior Jake Brewer