In just his second year at the helm, Indian Land Warriors head wrestling coach Leon Boulware had his team one win away from the 3A state title dual.
Indian Land fell to West Oak 49-15 in the 3A Upper State championship on the road to finish the season 30-4, setting a new school record for most wins in a season. However, the atmosphere at West Oak was just too much for the Warriors to absorb. Boulware compared his team’s loss to getting stage fright.
“The atmosphere was crazy there,” he said. “It was their first time being in a match like that. I think nerves got to them.”
Coming into the year, Boulware knew he had something special brewing as he finished up last season crowing two state champions in the individual tournament in Anderson. That momentum carried on for the team throughout summer workouts and into the season.
“The work we put in over the summer, we knew we had a strong team,” Boulware said. “Nobody expected us to do as well as we did. I was impressed by the work ethic our team showed. The loss should make us hungry.”
Indian Land will be graduating just four seniors off this year’s team and with the majority of his team coming back, Boulware said he feels confident in the future. The Warriors also have a good feeder program in their middle school team, who has won back-to-back state championships at that level.
“The program is on its way up,” he said.
For most of the year, West Oak and Indian Land had been ranked No. 1 and No. 2, in that order, in the 3A polls, as West Oak heads to the 3A state finals at 26-0 on the season. The Upper State match was the first between the two teams. Boulware said as much of a powerhouse as West Oak is at the 3A level, it would be beneficial for Indian Land to see them before a match of that magnitude in the future.
“We have got to try and catch them somewhere,” he said.
Boulware will now turn his team’s attention toward the 3A Upper State individual tournament slated for Feb. 16-17 at Powdersville High trying to qualify as many as he can for the state tournament held Feb. 23-24 at the Anderson Civic Center.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM