LITTLE RIVER, S.C. — Hartsville coach Michael Lynch wanted it to be different this time.
Not like the regular season, when his Red Foxes lost to North Myrtle Beach.
On Wednesday against those same Chiefs, the SCHSL Class 4A lower-state crown was on the line, as well as a trip to Saturday’s state championship final.
And like the Red Foxes had proven all postseason — on the road, no less, against three region champions — Hartsville would not be denied.
After beating region champions South Aiken and Dreher to reach this point, Hartsville made program history with its first lower-state championship with a 42-29 victory.
And what goes with it is that first trip to a state final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Dreher High School against four-time defending state champion Eastside. Eastside has won the previous three state crowns in 4A, and the first of this string of four crowns was won in 3A.
But back to Hartsville and what the Red Foxes accomplished Wednesday.
“It’s pretty special,” said 195-pounder Richard Williamson, who won his match with a pin. “Nobody expected us to do this. Everybody thought we’d lose in the first or second round. I’d say we shocked a lot of people, we surprised a lot of people.”
It was Richard’s brother, Robert, who clinched the Red Foxes’ lower-state crown with a win via decision (8-3) at 170.
Even Robert was left trying to put these indescribable feelings into words amid the Red Foxes’ euphoria.
“I’d say we’ve got honor,” he said, referring to his team’s mental toughness on the road.
A lot of credit also goes to Lynch’s strategy, switching up his lineup for the North Myrtle Beach rematch.
Freshman Danchez McNeal, who did not wrestle at 120 in the first match against North Myrtle, won Wednesday. And Michael Lynch’s nephew, Jordan Lynch, who won against NMB last time at 120, went up a class to compete at 126 — and won via technical default.
And Luke Phillips and Alex Hunt, who wrestled at 152 and 145 in the regular-season match against NMB, switched classes Wednesday with Phillips taking an 11-8 decision at 145.
“We knew what we had to go up against. We just moved some guys around and we practiced really hard,” Michael Lynch said. “And after you making some moves, sometimes the underdog has the advantage. (North Myrtle) didn’t change anything.
At 138, Hartsville’s Gabe Moore won on a 10-8 decision. And in the match’s first battle, at 220, Colby Catoe was declared the winner after Clay Butler suffered an injury and could not continue.
“We were the underdog, no question about it,” Lynch said. “Even if we had lost, no one would have expected us to win this match anyway. So we went out this week, and every one of our guys worked as hard as they could. They gave 110 percent. Every guy knew what they needed to do, and they came out and did it.”
106: Jackson Smith (NMB) d. Joshua Askins (H) technical fall.
113: Kimball Moore (H) d. Jacob Moss (NMB) 4-2
120: Danchez McNeal (H) won via pin over Justin Marinellie (NNB)
126: Jordan Lynch (H) d. Naszeir Bellamy via tech. default.
132: Logan Berger (H) d. Jaylan Moses (NMB) via pin.
138: Gabe Moore (H) d. Javante Stephens (NMB) 10-8.
145: Luke Phillips (H). d. Blake Jenkins (NMB) 11-8.
152: Jackie Gore (NMB) d. Alex Hunt (H) via pin.
160: Andre Giddens (NMB) d. Wyatt Wilson (H) via pin
170: Robert Williamson (H) won 8-3 over Rashad Dawud.
182: Chase Simmons (NMB) d. Josh Mullins (H) via pin
195: Richard Williamson (H). d. Seth Clewis (NMB) via pin
220: Colby Catoe (H) d. Clay Butler (NMB) via injury default
285: Malachi Black (NMB) d. Byron Coe (H) via pin