Parkland and Rock Hill lead the pack after the first day of competition at the 35th annual Bearcat Invitational Wrestling Tournament at Rock Hill High School.
Parkland from Monroe, N.C., has 68 points, while Rock Hill is second with 59.5 points. Sun Valley is third with 50 points. Boiling Springs and Dorman complete the top five with 47 and 45.5 points, respectively.
Nineteen varsity and 10 junior varsity teams are in this year’s field. The varsity teams began each division Friday night. They will continue at 9 a.m. Saturday with the consolation bracket on the varsity level.
The junior varsity division will begin its wrestling at 9 a.m. Saturday. Before the end of the day, each of the 14 weight classifications in both the varsity and junior varsity levels will have determined champions and consolation bracket winners.
“The bracket that the young men wrestle in is determined by seeding, last year’s finish in the state tournament, and this year’s record,” said Rock Hill coach Cain Beard. “The top six individuals in each weight classification score points to determine the overall team winner.”
The tournament has enjoyed outstanding competition in past years, and this year is no exception. The Rock Hill Bearcats are ranked number one in South Carolina, while Parkland, the seven-time defending state champion, is the top-rated team in North Carolina.
Beard enjoys the competition generated at this tournament as well as the atmosphere it creates for all of the teams.
“This tournament is great preparation for later on in the year,” said Beard. “The competition here is top-notch, and having a lot of fans to watch the wrestlers is really helpful.”
Beard estimated that nearly 500 wrestlers from the two Carolinas will be involved in this year’s tournament.
“I always try to get the best teams to participate in the tournament,” Beard said. “When you have the top-rated teams in the two Carolinas in the field, you know the competition is good.”
Quality teams want to come to the tournament because of the competition and the atmosphere.
“Many of our teams have returned many times throughout the years,” said Beard, who has served as the director of the tournament for seven years. “Some years, we even have a waiting list of teams that want to participate in the tournament.”
In addition to Rock Hill, the Clover Blue Eagles and York Cougars are in the tournament. All are members of Region 3-AAAA. The other local team in the tournament is the Chester Cyclones.