LAURENS — Nearly 20 area wrestlers qualified for the 4A individual state championships to be held this weekend at the Anderson Civic Center.
The Jackets and Rock Hill Bearcats has five wrestlers each to qualify for the two-day tourney. The top four finishers at each weight class qualify for the state tournament.
South Pointe has three qualifiers, while Clover and Nation Ford has two each. Lancaster has one wrestler.
Northwestern and York, who had 16 wrestlers qualify for the Upper State tournament with eight each, didn’t have any qualify for the state tourney.
Fort Mill won the most Upper State titles of any local team with three: AJ Leitten won at 106 pounds, followed by Jake Strong at 126 pounds and BJ Hurst at 195 pounds.
Jackets coach Chris Brock said he knew Upper State would be a challenge to some of the 10 wrestlers he brought.
“I knew three of them would have a hard time and we had a couple of them on the edge,” Brock said. “But we are sending five guys off a team that wasn’t totally complete all year long.”
For the Jackets, one of the most impressive runs of the tournament came from Leitten, who dropped down to 106 for the individual qualifying tournaments this season, while wrestling at 113 during the regular season and playoffs.
Leitten won all three of his matches en route to an Upper State title, but did so dominantly with two pins and a 16-0 technical fall in the semifinals of the 106-pound weight class. Leitten got the technical fall in the first period and didn’t give up a point the entire tournament.
Nation Ford’s Collin Godbout and Michael Allen both qualified from a team that made the playoffs for the first time in school history this year. Both Allen and Godbout, along with Houston Vandiver, who just missed qualifying, led the Falcons all season.
“Our guys showed up and were ready to wrestle,” said Falcons’ coach Leon Boulware. “I hate to see some of the seniors go out. Houston busted his butt all year. I am proud of the effort that was there.”
Two of the most anticipated matches of the tournament had Falcons participating in them.
The first was a match-up between Fort Mill’s Eddie Byrams and Godbout at 120 pounds in the semi-finals. Both had split matches this year with Byrams getting the best of Godbout in the Region III tournament, while Godbout beat Byrams in the dual match between the schools.
This time it was Godbout who got a 5-2 win over Byrams. Godbout finished second, while Byrams finished third. These two may collide again at the state tournament next week.
The other intense match featuring the Falcons included Allen. At 138 pounds and needing a win to go to the state tournament, Allen was trailing Spartanburg’s Terry Wood 14-10 in the closing seconds of his match when he got Wood in a headlock, flipped him to his back and pinned him with about 10 seconds left.
Allen had trailed nearly the entire match and was down 7-1 after the first period and 9-3 after the second period, but continued fighting back before getting the win.
4A State Qualifiers
Key: Boiling Springs (BS), Byrnes (Byr), Clover (C), Dorman (D), Fort Mill (FM), Gaffney (Gaf), Greenwood (Gwd), Hillcrest (H), Lancaster (L), Laurens (Lau), Mauldin (Mau), Nation Ford (NF), Riverside (R), Rock Hill (RH), South Pointe (SP), TL Hanna (TLH), Wade Hampton (WH), Westside (Wst). (local qualifiers in bold)
106: 1. AJ Leitten (FM), 2. Arthur Hofer (BS), 3. Josh Aquino (D), 4. Jordan Thompson (TLH).
113: 1. Zack Clary (Gaf), 2. Logan Sexton (RH), 3. Ernest Grigorchuck (BS), 4. Nathan Roberts (H).
120: 1. Austin Chandler (Gaf), 2. Collin Godbout (NF), 3. Eddie Byrams (FM), 4. Alex Spencer (Byr).
126: 1. Jake Strong (FM), 2. Sean Horgan (H), 3. Addison Christopher (Byr.), 4. Jacob Shewalter (D).
132 : 1. Mike Miller (SP), 2. Jeremy Higgins (H), 3. Tyler Wilkins (RH), 4. Jharee Kerns (C).
138: 1. Grant Snyder (H), 2. Jonathan Contreras (BS), 3. Michael Allen (NF), 4. Antravious Page (SP).
145: 1. Cole Mangum (BS), 2. John Michael Sweeney (H), 3. Dalton Simpson (D), 4. Jack Debbout (FM).
152: 1. Charlie Connor (Byr), 2. Kris Hughes (RH), 3. Ryan Victory (WH), 4. Steven Crowder (Gwd).
160: 1. Thomas Mabry (Gaf), 2. Jackson Boyd (R), 3. Mieklo Sekely (D), 4. Deiontre Hill (Byr).
170: 1. Christian Maroni (D), 2. Ricky Blackman (SP), 3. Isaiah Sayegh (H), 4. Dionel Plascencia (WH).
182: 1. Quinshawn Evans (L), 2. Ryan Hughes (Lau), 3. Steven Schultz (Mau), 4. Nygel Witherspoon (H).
195: 1. BJ Hurst (FM), 2. Scott Roudabush (BS), 3. Landon Sayegh (H), 4. Austin Crocker (Lau).
220: 1. Cameron Bell (RH), 2. Adarius Williams (Wst), 3. Zach Conrad (C), 4. Gavin Miebach (Mau).
Hwt: 1. Travis Strait (RH), 2. Johnny Martinez (D), 3. Josh Smith (Mau), 4. Tylando Mattress (Wst).