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Abbeville High School

 Abbeville wrestling wrapping up regular season

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Abbeville—The Abbeville wrestling team may not get as much publicity as its fellow sports programs at the school, but they work just as hard as they prepare for the stretch run of the regular season followed by the playoffs.

The Panthers are 9-15 overall under head coach Bill Glace, but have faced a tough schedule throughout the year.

“It’s one end or the other. We either have a lot of experience or none at all. We’ve filled 12 of 14 weight classes, so that’s great. Another thing has been our schedule. We have 15 losses, but only a couple of those have come to 2A schools. I’ve reached out in order for us to wrestle different people. It’s also a unique experience having several first-year wrestlers along with a three-time state champion, so I have to get them all competitive matches,” Glace said.

The three-time state champion is senior Chandler Smalley, who will look to finish his career in style with a fourth individual title at 145 pounds. He is committed to Lander University and has been one of the best leaders Glace has seen.

“I try to get him the toughest matches I can, whether that’s having to bump him up a weight class or whatever. He takes whatever I can throw at him. He’s done really well. He’s worked with the younger guys and even some of the older guys who were close to being state qualifiers or who were qualifiers that want to be state placers. He’s really helped them out,” Glace said.

Another veteran that returned this season is 220-pound senior Thomas Shelman, who placed third in his weight class a season ago and hopes to win that final match this time around.

“I’d like to think so. We do have the returning state champion in 220 in our region, so he gets to wrestle him all the time. I think he has as good a chance as anybody. He’s working really hard and he has the potential,” Glace said.

Two other wrestlers are back after competing at the state tournament in 2018. Senior Dylan Carroll (126 pounds) and junior heavyweight Connor Nickles will have their sights set on advancing to the medal rounds this winter.

“I definitely think Dylan and Connor have a really good shot. To me, the hardest time to qualify is the first time. Once you do it the first time, you have that confidence. We have to get some of those other guys over that hump. Even though some people may count us out because of our team record, it always seems that our guys end up peaking at the right time. They’ve been working so hard and I hope they get rewarded for it,” Glace said.

Also in the Abbeville starting lineup is a trio of seniors in Clay White (120), Zack Gamble (152) and Robin Crawford (182).

Nickles is the lone junior for the Panthers while Brady Crabb (106) and Luke Evans (170) make up the sophomore class. Freshmen Dre Bryant (132), Mason Price (138) and Parker Humphreys (160) are in their first year at the varsity level.

“I feel like they’ve developed. They’ve really stepped up to the plate. Some of the upperclassmen have taken them under their wing and helped to train them,” Glace said.

Abbeville will host its conference duals meet Jan. 23 against Ninety Six and Silver Bluff. The individual tournament will be held at Ninety Six the following day.

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