INDIAN LAND, S.C. — The Indian Land High School wrestling team and its coaches are asking for the community’s help to reward the state-winning athletes with championship rings.
The team made school history on February 9 when it won the Class 3A South Carolina state championship. The wrestlers are the first boys sports team in the history of Indian Land High School to win a state title.
"It feels amazing being the first boys team state champion in 91 years, and it being wrestling other than football,” said Austin Ross, a senior on the team. “It's just no one thought that was going to happen."
Indian Land Head Wrestling Coach Leon Boulware started at the high school as the coach three years ago, working to prepare the boys for the mat as well as the winner’s mentality.
"I told them two years ago that they were going to be the first team to win a boy's state title, just believing in the hard work that they put in,” Boulware said.
Last year, the team finished just shy of the state championship round.
"Our coach constantly reminded us every single day that's how bad we got beat, and we never wanted to be in that situation again,” said Teddy Yarborough, a senior on the team.
The wrestlers on the team said that loss fueled their season this year. Boulware said the boys worked hard every day at practice, even showing up for a workout on Christmas morning.
Ultimately, their hard work paid off with a 44-12 victory in the state championship over Gilbert High School.
The team received medals and t-shirts for their win, but the state championship rings are an added expense.
Boulware said a GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the rings and reward the boys who brought so much pride to the school.
"It's something that they're going to have for the rest of their lives to look down on their finger and say ‘Hey, we accomplished something for the first time that can never be taken away from us,’” Boulware added.
The team is hoping to raise about $10,000 to pay for all 42 rings for coaches, managers, and wrestlers.