The Fort Mill wrestling season is underway and judging from the early results, the Yellow Jackets appear to be headed for another successful season.
Fort Mill, which finished 22-4 last year, won the Region III championship and advanced to the state semifinals, have picked up where they left off and are looking to carry the momentum as they prepare for conference meets and another run in the playoffs.
This season, the Yellow Jackets are young, but have several talented upperclassmen to guide the newcomers. Seniors Mack Harris, Brandon Felix and Thomas Mockridge, along with juniors Max Simons and Garrett Passatore, are counted on for leadership. There are seven upperclassmen, 11 sophomores and 19 freshmen who look to gain experience and keep the program going strong.
"This year's team will be the youngest and most inexperienced team that I've had in 19 years of coaching," said Yellow Jacket head coach Christopher Brock. "Although we lost a lot of talent and are replacing it with young guys, the expectations of the team and the program have not changed."
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Fort Mill kicked off its season Dec. 3 in a tri-meet and defeated Ridge View and White Knoll. In the first meet, the Yellow Jackets won easily against Ridge View, earning a 55-21 victory.
The second meet was a little closer, but the Yellow Jackets hung on in the end and defeated White Knoll 37-36.
The Yellow Jackets finished third in the Palmetto Classic, which was held Dec. 6 in Irmo. Fort Mill produced four individual tournament champions and two other wrestlers who placed in the event.
Individual first place finishers were Felix, a 130-pounder who has posted a 8-0 record for the season. Also undefeated heading into this week are 152-pound sophomore Jonathon Miskelly (7-0), Mockridge, 9-0 at 160 pounds; and Simons, also 9-0, is a 189-pounder who rounds out the four tournament champions.
Passatore, a 285-pounder, finished second in the tournament and Allan Parks, at 119-pounds, finished fourth.
Fort Mill also defeated Weddington on Tuesday, winning the meet 51-24. Simons, Passatore, Miskelly, Mockridge and Felix all won by fall. Also, freshman Austin King, at 112 pounds, and 125-pound sophomore Ryan Dugans also pinned their opponents.
Friday, the Yellow Jackets defeated Chesterfield 43-31 and Saturday, Fort Mill crushed Charlotte Latin 54-18. Passatore won by decision both times, Mockridge won by a major decision and a pin, Felix twice pinned his opponents, and Simons won by a fall and a forfeit, continuing their unbeaten individual seasons.
Fort Mill returns home next week to host Indian Land on Wednesday. Over the weekend the Yellow Jackets will host the Beef O' Brady's Invitational. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday and continue at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Ten teams will be invited to the tournament this year. In addition to host Fort Mill, East Gaston, (N.C.), Eastside, Irmo, Byrnes, Rock Hill, Northwestern, South Pointe, Lexington and Woodward Academy (Ga.) will all compete in the tournament. It is the eighth year Brock and the Yellow Jackets have hosted the tournament, although Beef O' Brady's became the sponsor last year.