The Yellow Jackets' youth movement appears to be headed in the right direction. Fort Mill, coming off a season in which it advanced to the state semifinals, has been retooling its lineup for the future.
It's working out pretty well for the present, too.
After losing several key seniors from last year's squad, the young team is responding and seems poised for another run deep into the postseason.
Fort Mill hosted the third annual Beef O' Brady's Invitational held at the school Dec. 19-20. The event featured 10 of the best individual wrestlers and teams from around the region. The Yellow Jackets proved that they belong in the same category and finished second overall behind Rock Hill High School.
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Head coach Christopher Brock has been pleasantly surprised with the effort of the team. He went into the season with the youngest team that he had ever assembled, and if things continue in the same direction, he could be headed for the best coaching performance of his long and established career.
Brock, who has been at Fort Mill since 2000, has 19 seasons of coaching experience under his belt, and he has been successful in all of his stops. The Yellow Jackets lost six seniors from last year and all had been involved with the middle school program since the seventh grade.
Fort Mill was looking at the Beef O' Brady's tournament as a barometer of how they stacked up against some of the top teams in the region and Brock is pleased with how they fared. The second-place finish is impressive, but the experience gained is what should make the team stronger as it approaches the middle point of the season.
The Yellow Jackets boasted two competitors who won Outstanding Wrestler for their weight classes - 125-pound senior Brandon Felix, a state champion in 2005, and 189-pound junior Max Simons, a 2008 state qualifier and a 2006 Freshman All-American.
Junior Colby Hice and sophomore Ryan Dugas placed fourth in their divisions, 119 and 125 pounds, respectively.
Junior Garrett Passatore placed fourth as well in the 285-pound class and sophomore Jonathon Miskelly finished third at 152.
Seniors Brandon Feix, at 130 pounds, and Thomas Mockridge, at 160 pounds, won individual awards for their weight classes.
Also, Simons won the overall championship for the 189-pound division.
Fort Mill was scheduled to host Spring Valley. Jan. 6.