Fort Mill’s George Mandon wrestles his opponent from Byrnes during the first round of the 5A state playoffs.

DUNCAN – Despite purposely forfeiting two matches for strategic purpose, Fort Mill nearly pulled off an upset of No. 2 ranked Byrnes in the first round of the 5A state dual playoffs Saturday.

Fort Mill fell 41-31 as the match came down to the last weight class with the heavyweights ending the Jackets’ dual season with a 7-4 record in a COVID-19 shortened season.

“We had to shift the line up after 160 (pounds),” said Fort Mill head coach Chris Brock. “Given the circumstances, we had to gamble a bit. We lost a couple matches down in the lower weights we weren’t anticipating to lose. You have to win when you are supposed to win.”

The match started at 106-pounds and Fort Mill led through the first four matches. Aidan Eubanks got the Jackets on board with a first period pin and was followed by a 11-3 major decision from Sebastian Colon at 113-pounds to put Fort Mill up 10-0.

Fort Mill then dropped the next three matches giving Byrnes their first lead of the match at 14-10. The Jackets jumped back on top with a second period pin from Joshua Sturgeon to give them a 16-14 lead.

Byrnes regained the lead winning at 145-pounds, but George Mandon kept Fort Mill in the match with a 10-7 decision at 152-pounds before a forfeit by the Jackets at 160-pounds.

The forfeit gave Byrnes a 25-19 lead. Fort Mill would bump wrestlers up as Brian Kelley, who normally wrestles at 160, wrestled at 170-pounds and got a third period pin. Kannon Osborne wrestled at his normal weight at 182-pounds and got a first period pin giving the Jackets a 31-26 lead.

Fort Mill again forfeited, this time at 195-pounds giving Byrnes the 32-31 lead with two matches left. The Jackets then dropped both of those matches extending Byrnes lead and allowing them to clinch the match with a first period pin at the heavyweight division.

Fort Mill will now turn its attention to the Upper State individual tournament at Nation Ford Feb. 26-27 weekend. The Jackets will take eight wrestlers to the tournament trying to get them to finish in the top three to qualify for the state tournament.

Copperheads finish season with a dual win

Earlier in the week, the Catawba Ridge Copperheads finished their dual season with a 60-18 win over Chesterfield earlier in the week. Getting wins for the Copperheads were Connor Stukitz, Jakob Kees, Jackson Rozelle, Jarrett Eubanks, Logan Manha, Forrest Rozelle, Kade McCarter, Nate Teel, RJ Lincoln and Tony Atkins. Catawba Ridge finished their dual season with a 5-5 record.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep