ANDERSON — A small change in strategy paid off for Fort Mill High senior Nick Leitten, who capped an undefeated wrestling season by winning the 145-pound state championship at the 4A individual state tournament.
Leitten, who made it to the state finals match last year and lost, decided this year to head back to the team hotel to take a nap instead of sticking around the Anderson Civic Center waiting for the finals Saturday evening. Leitten said he came back feeling refreshed.
“Last year, we hung around the building and waited, but it was like a new start this year,” he said.
Leitten pushed his record for the 2012-13 season to 54-0 after beating Rock Hill’s Bishop Ashley in a 3-1 decision.
“Nick is a tough kid and works hard,” said Fort Mill coach Chris Brock. “He is a talented kid. This is a tough event. We were fortunate to put two in the finals.”
Leitten scored a takedown in the first period to go up 2-0, but Ashley got an escape to get on the board and make it 2-1 heading into the second. Leitten added an escape of his own in the second period, and that was all the scoring that would occur in the match.
After the win, a very reserved and calm Leitten didn’t celebrate outwardly. He looked relieved as he quietly walked off the mat to the scorer’s table and then over to Brock.
The matchup between Leitten and Ashley was the fourth one of the year, with Leitten taking all four, in very close fashion each time. Leitten said it was hard to wrestle someone he knows so well in the biggest match of his career.
“I was nervous, but ready,” he said. “I had to make my myself and my mind right.”
Leitten was the only York County wrestler to come away with a state title.
Fort Mill took six wrestlers to the two-day event in Anderson. Three of them placed.
The Jackets’ Tyler Turner finished second after falling to Lexington’s Andrew Szalwinski 5-3 in overtime. Turner rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the match in the third period before Szalwinski got a takedown in overtime that turned out to be the winning points in the match.
Turner, a junior, finished the season with a 47-4 record and will return next season along with Eddie Byrams, who finished third by beating Fort Dorchester’s Tyre Wright 3-0 in the consolation finals at 113 pounds.
Nation Ford had just one wrestler at the 4A state tournament, senior Josh Driscoll, who finished third at 220 pounds by beating Beaufort’s Kentrell Seabrook 3-1 in overtime.
“Josh is a very hard worker, but more than anything he is a great individual and does things the right way,” said Nation Ford head coach Paul Richardson.
On the 2A side of things, Indian Land brought five wrestlers three of them finished third.
Warriors head coach Rondale Truesdale said his team still has work ahead to meet its goals.
“We still need to improve,” he said. “We need to work on more in the offseason.”
Freshman Dalen Byerley beat Pendleton’s Ben Lingerfelt 10-3 in the consolation finals at 113 pounds and junior Devin Curtsinger beat Batter Creek’s Brian LaBean 4-2 in the consolation finals at 138 pounds.
Also, Indian Land senior Dylan Deese finished third at 182 pounds by beating Liberty’s Tanner Chambers 7-3. The Warriors’ junior Taylor Pendleton lost to Abbeville’s Alex Oaks 7-0 in the consolation finals at 126 pounds.
|2013 State tournament local placers||4A|
|113:1) Jackson Myers, Lexington; 2) Levi Joly, Bluffton; 3) Eddie Byrams, Fort Mill; 4) Tyre Wright, Fort Dorchester.||120:1) Andrew Szalwinski, Lexington; 2) Tyler Turner, Fort Mill; 3) Hector Contreras, Dorman; 4) Chris Jackson, Lugoff-Elgin.|
|145: 1) Nick Leitten, Fort Mill; 2) Bishop Ashley, Rock Hill; 3) Walker Barfield, Lexington; 4) Charlie Conner, Byrnes.||220:1) Nate Meagher, Lexington; 2) Allen Jenerette, Lugoff-Elgin; 3) Josh Driscoll, Nation Ford; 4) Kentrell Seabrook, Beaufort.|
|2A||113:1) Daquan Chappell, Central; 2) Josh Jones, Landrum; 3) Dalen Byerley, Indian Land; 4) Ben Lingerfelt, Pendleton.|
|126:1) Josh McDermett, Academic Magnet; 2) Lan Hiers, Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 3) Alex Oaks, Abbeville; 4) Taylor Pendleton, Indian Land.||138:1) Jacob Hopper, Newberry; 2) Dakota Stewart, Liberty; 3) Devin Curtsinger, Indian Land; 4) Brian LaBean, Battery Creek.|
|182:1) Mark Moody, Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 2) Leonard Brown, Baptist Hill; 3) Dylan Deese, Indian Land; 4) Tanner Chambers, Liberty.|