Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford crowned multiple Region 3-5A state champions Saturday in the one-day tournament at Fort Mill High.
Fort Mill had three wrestlers win region titles and Nation Ford had two. Clover had eight region title winners to lead the tournament. Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford had several wrestlers qualify for the Upper State tournament at the end of February, but just how many is unknown.
Originally it was decided that the Upper State tournament would have a 12-man bracket with the top three finishers from each region qualifying for the tournament. Now there is talk that only the top two finishers would qualify for the Upper State individual tournament Feb. 26-27 making it an eight-man bracket. The Upper State individual tournament is scheduled to take place at Nation Ford, but could be moved to Clover High if it turns into a 12-man tournament.
Either way, the top two finishers in the region tournament Saturday were guaranteed a spot. Fort Mill had eight top two finishers and Nation Ford had five. If it turns out to be a 12-man bracket at the Upper State tournament, Fort Mill will send 11 wrestlers, while Nation Ford would send seven.
“I hope the 5A committee or whoever makes the decision includes the top three,” said Fort Mill head coach Brian Kelley. “We need the top three.”
Fort Mill crowned region champions in Sebastian Colon (113), Noah Kitchton (126) and Brian Kelley (160). Colon won with a 12-0 decision and Kelley won with a 10-4 decision, Kitchton won with a second period pin.
Finishing second for the Jackets was Aiden Eubanks (106), McGuire Harms (120), Joshua Sturgeon (132), TJ Miller (138), and Connor Montgomery (182). Third place finishers and possible Upper State qualifiers for the Jackets were George Mandon (145), Zach Smith (152), and Kannon Osborne (182),
“Anytime you can qualify for the next step in the series is a good thing,” Brock said. “Our youth and inexperience continue to be a sore thumb for us, but we will fix that.”
Next up for the Jackets is the dual playoffs Feb. 13 as they travel to Byrnes in the first round.
For Nation Ford, both Caden Brandenburg (145) and Steven Johnson (152) brought home region titles. Brandenburg won with a third period pin, while Johnson won with a first period pin in just 62 seconds.
Finishing second for the Falcons was Isaac Nieves (160) winning a wrestle back match against Gaffney’s Jeremiah Hannon 6-3. Ryan deLeon (182) and Clayton Rygol (220) also finished second. Finishing third and possibly qualifying for the Upper State tournament also was Ja’Derrick Foster (132) and Alan Minarro (hwt.).
“Overall, I thought we did a good job,” said Nation Ford head coach Tony Forte. “Steven and Caden both did what was expected of them. Coming in I felt like Isaac could have won the tournament. He lost a close win, but did a great job to come back and win the rest of the day. Our younger guys just need more mat time and confidence. It was pretty much what we expected for our number of top two finishes, now we have to wait and see what the state decides in regards to an eight man or 12-man Upper State bracket.”
Copperheads fall to Indian Land in a dual match
Indian Land got the best of the Catawba Ridge Copperheads wrestling team winning 58-18 Saturday in a dual. The loss drops Catawba Ridge to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in Region 3-4A.
“The score looks bad, but we competed like crazy,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Scooter Weathers. “They battled. I was proud of them. We are building a program and it takes time. Some guys last year were getting pinned in the first 30 seconds of the first period.”
Winning for Catawba Ridge against Indian Land was Connor Stukitz, RJ Lincoln and Tony Atkins. The Copperheads should finish out its region schedule Feb. 2 at home against Lancaster.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep