TAYLORS — Fort Mill senior Nick Leitten started the season off on the right foot by winning the 145-pound weight class at the 2012 Southern Slam wrestling tournament.
Leitten, now 7-0 on the year, helped lead Fort Mill to a 12th place finish out of 39 schools in the two-day tournament. This was the fourth straight year at least one Yellow Jackets wrestler won the tournament.
Leitten beat Georgia’s Archer High School’s Thomas Bullard 11-3 in the finals.
Fort Mill didn’t field a full-squad, carrying only nine wrestlers to the tournament. Of those nine wrestlers, five placed at the tournament.
Both juniors B.J. Hurst (220) and Tyler Turner (126) finished fourth at the Slam.
Junior Eddie Byrams finished fifth at 113 pounds and senior heavyweight Zach Dulcie finished seventh.
“It’s tough,” said Fort Mill head coach Chris Brock. “You can come and get excited because you kids do well or you can get humbled. The guys have done well here. It’s a great wrestling tournament. Nick did a great job and had a great finals match.”
Nation Ford also had a contingency of wrestlers there and placed three of them in the top eight. Both Michael Allen (138) and Nick Raniszewski (152) finished eighth and Josh Driscoll (220) finished fifth after winning 12-8 over Rock Hill’s Cameron Bell.
“The competition here is very good,” said Falcons coach Paul Richardson. “We are pretty solid this year through the lineup. We don’t have any one wrestler stand out.”
Fort Mill win ‘Main Event’
Earlier in the week, Fort Mill and Nation Ford faced off in the annual Main Event at Fort Mill High.
The meet between the two local rivals was a lot closer this year than in years past, showing that Nation Ford is closing the gap from the competitive side of things.
Despite how close it was, Fort Mill still came away with the 48-23 win. Nation Ford had to give up 18 points by forfeiting three weight classes – 113, 126 and 195. With that advantage to begin with, Fort Mill jumped out to a 12-0 win after John Brotemarkle (106) pinned Harrison Vandiver in the first period.
Collin Godbout (120) then beat Nick Gray 5-2 to give Nation Ford its first points. After another Falcons forfeit made it 18-3, Elliot Wallace beat Austin Gard (132) 8-2; Allen beat Jack Debbout (138) 13-2; Houston Vandiver had a major decision over Dan Angel (145) and Raniszewski pinned Antonio Dawkins (152) to make it four wins in a row for Nation Ford and give the Falcons a 20-18 lead.
Leitten then regained the lead for Fort Mill by pinning Cody Carter in the second period to make it 24-20.
Fort Mill’s Malik Long extended that lead with a pin over Brady Hensley at 170 pounds and the dual ended with pins from Hurst against Driscoll (220) in the third period and Dulcie on James Twedt (Hwt.) in the first period.
Richardson said he was proud of how far his team has come.
“We worked hard,” he said. “Nothing means nothing until Region, Upper State and State. I still want to get five qualified for States.”