FORT MILL — For the first time in its brief history, the Nation Ford wrestling program has gotten to the point where it can compete head-to-head with rival Fort Mill.
Thursday night proved that point despite the Falcons falling 39-26 to the Yellow Jackets.
The match came down to the last two weight classes as Fort Mill sophomore John Brotemarkle beat freshman Jeremey Kishbaugh 7-0 at 106 pounds to clinch the win for the Jackets.
“We don’t match up well with Nation Ford,” said Fort Mill coach Chris Brock. “They are a good team and we knew we had our hands full. We had some guys not give up pins and that helped us.”
Nation Ford started off strong as it took a 3-0 lead after senior Collin Godbout upset the state’s No. 1 ranked 120-pounder Eddie Byrams 3-2.
Fort Mill came back with two straight pins from juniors Jake Strong and Nick Gray to go up 12-3.
However, Nation Ford tied things up with wins from senior Michael Allen and freshman Jakob Gravely at 138 and 145 pounds.
Fort Mill took a slim 15-12 lead as senior Nigel Bostick won at 152 pounds outlasting senior Houston Vandiver 2-1. Bostick won in the last seconds as he got the only takedown of the match with about 35 seconds to go.
The Jackets won another close match at 160 pounds as sophomore Jack Debbout beat junior Robert Land 1-0. Debbout’s only point came on an escape in the third period.
But just as quickly as Fort Mill opened a gap, Nation Ford closed it by getting a forfeit win at 170 from senior Sean Davis.
Nation Ford then won the next two matches at 182 and 195 as Justin Ettell beat Fort Mill’s Ian Baird with a technical fall 20-4 and junior Brady Hensley won 4-1 over sophomore Gray Hinson.
After the match, Brock objected to some extra aggressive activity from Hensley after the whistle, which didn’t get called in his opinion.
The win by Hensley put the score at 26-18 for the Falcons, but lit a fire under Fort Mill as they would win the next four matches to close things out.
Fort Mill senior B.J. Hurst pinned Nation Ford junior Major Strait at 220 pounds and the Yellow Jackets’ sophomore heavyweight Matt Neill got a pin fall win over Jordan Miller as well to put the home squad back on top 30-26.
Brotemarkle then got the win to clinch the victory for Fort Mill and the Jackets’ freshman A.J. Leitten pinned sophomore Harrison Vandiver to end the dual at 113 pounds.
Despite the loss, Nation Ford coach Leon Boulware saw a lot of positives from his team, which can clinch its first playoff berth this week depending on the outcome of other Region III-AAAA matches.
“We are closing the gap,” he said. “I am proud of their effort. We wrestled well. A couple of matches could have gone one way and we would have won the match.”
Fort Mill 39, Nation Ford 26
120: Collin Godbout (NF) dec. Eddie Byrams (FM) 3-2; 126: Jake Strong (FM) pinned TJ Giarratana; 132: Nick Gray (FM) pinned Buck Barfield (NF); 138: Michael Allen (NF) pinned Steven Hamilton (FM); 145: Jakob Gravely (NF) dec. Evan Stankovitz (FM) 5-2; 152: Nigel Bostick (FM) dec. Houston Vandiver (NF) 2-1; 160: Jack Debbout (FM) dec. Robert Land (NF) 1-0; 170: Sean Davis (NF) forfeit; 182: Justin Ettell (NF) tech. fall Ian Baird (FM) 20-4; 195: Brady Hensley (NF) dec. Gray Hinson (FM) 4-1; 220: BJ Hurst (FM) pinned Major Strait (NF); Hwt.: Matt Neill (FM) pinned Jordan Miller (NF); 106: John Brotemarkle (FM) dec. Jeremy Kishbaugh (NF) 7-0; 113: AJ Leitten (FM) pinned Harrison Vandiver (NF).
Records: Fort Mill 15-3, 6-1 Region III-AAAA; Nation Ford 16-11, 3-4 Region III-AAAA.