Carolina Forest wrestler

Carolina Forest won last weekend's tournament at North Myrtle Beach High School. The Panthers opened region competition this week.

Carolina Forest’s wrestling team lost five seniors from the group that qualified for the postseason last winter, but their goals haven’t changed.

They want a region title and a deep run in the playoffs.

“We are fighting to get that No. 1 [ranking],” assistant coach Matthew Perdue said. “We are just looking to build at this point.”

The Panthers won a tournament in North Myrtle Beach Saturday and were scheduled to begin region matches this week (after press deadlines).

The Panthers have already faced tough competition this season, including a win over North Myrtle Beach Saturday. The Chiefs reached the 4A state championship match last year.

“We played a lot of great teams in the Lexington Duals last week,” Perdue said. “The goal is continue to get better so that we can take back our region title.”

The Panthers won four straight region titles before Socastee took that crown from them last year.

Winning the region is something that senior captain Jayson Jacoby has had his mind on all season.

“I’ve moved around in my weight class this season and I’ve done pretty well no matter where they put me,” he said. “My true weight is 152, but I’ve been bumped up to 160 and I’ve done pretty well.”

Jacoby has been impressed with his fellow teammates as the team boasts a record of 19-1 across the state of South Carolina. This was after losing some key contributors to graduation.

“When you lose that much talent, you really don’t know what to expect,” Jacoby said. “I thought we were going to be a little bit more slippery than last year. But we’ve come together and pulled out wins over the third, eighth and ninth best teams in the state.”

On top of being ranked third in the lower state, the Panthers are ranked as the eighth best team in Class 5A. And while rankings are “just a thing” to Jacoby, he said having that ranking helps the team out in many ways.

“In the end, they help build confidence,” he said. ”You see guys out there that are taking a risk and giving it their all instead of being tight and scared. We hope that our team can continue to do well, gain more confidence in ourselves and each other and work our way to getting that region title back.”

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