FORT MILL — Fort Mill freshman AJ Leitten and Indian Land sophomore Dalen Byerley were named All-Americans at the High School Nationals wrestling tournament in Virginia Beach.
Leitten, a former national champion, earned All-American status for the second time in his career by going 5-3 at the tournament. The top eight finishers in each weight class in each division earned All-American status.
Leitten won his first four matches to advance to the quarterfinals before falling to eventual finalist Jose Tapia of New Mexico. Leitten was wrestling in the 106-pound weight class in the freshman division and had 122 wrestlers in his division , making it one of the most competitive in the tournament.
After falling to Tapia 7-2, Leitten dropped to the consolation bracket where he pinned New York’s Dane Herberlein in the first minute to clinch All-American status. From there, he struggled some, dropping his next two matches to finish eighth in his division.
Byerley also got off to a good start wrestling in the 120-pound sophomore division. Byerley had 84 wrestlers in his division and went 3-3 in the tournament. Byerley won his first three matches before losing in the quarterfinals in a close, 1-0 match to Utah’s Benjamin Anderson.
In the consolation bracket, Byerley won 4-2 over New York’s Anthony Argentieri, attaining All-American status. However like Leitten, Byerley dropped his next two matches to finish eighth.
Nation Ford originally had plans to take seven wrestlers, three from high school and four from middle school – but only six went after freshman TJ Giarratana canceled, according to coach Leon Boulware.
Falcons wrestlers had one win among the six competitors who made the trip to Virginia Beach. Nation Ford’s Robert Land dropped both of his matches at 145 pounds in the junior division and 113-pound Jeremy Kishbaugh lost both of his matches as well, also in the freshman division.
Springfield Middle School’s Josh Paxtor lost both of his matches, as did Fort Mill Middle’s Jacob Moore. The only winner for Nation Ford was Fort Mill Middle wrestler Wesley Johnson, who wrestled at 135 pounds. He dropped his first match, but won 10-1 in the consolation round before losing his second match 4-1 to Virginia’s Nick Pierce in the double elimination tournament.
Fort Mill Middle eighth-grader Brody Parks also gained All-American status by default as he finished eighth in his 180-pound weight class in the middle school division. There were only eight wrestlers in the weight class giving all participants All-American status. Parks lost the seventh-place match 5-4 to New Jersey’s Danny Silva.