Unexpected losses in key weight classes for Fort Mill wrestling caused a swing in points to go in favor of the Byrnes Rebels as they upset the Jackets 34-27 in the second round of the 5A state playoffs.
Coming into the tournament ranked 10th in the state, Fort Mill had a 27-16 lead with four weight classes left, but lost all four matches, two by pin, which allowed 14th ranked Byrnes help complete the rally.
Fort Mill finished the season 17-8.
Fort Mill head coach Chris Brock said he expected his team to struggle at some weight classes, but didn’t anticipate how things would ultimately shake out.
“I knew 126 (pounds) was going to be tough,” Brock said. “We had just got Zach (Hornbrook) back (from injury). But 120 was absolutely unexplained. The kid has to win that match. The same can be said at 220. We have to have all 14 wrestlers perform, not just eight or nine of them.”
The dual started at 220 and Fort Mill gave up a 6-4 loss in the last minute of the match to put the Jackets down early. Fort Mill bounced back at heavyweight for a 5-1 win from Jack Kelley to tie the dual. Fort Mill would then get a win from Ethan Johnson at 106 pounds to go up 9-3, but then lost three straight matches to fall behind 16-9.
Joseph Banny put Fort Mill back in the win column with an 8-3 decision at 132 pounds before Brody Claassen put them ahead 18-16 for the first time with a third period pin at 138 as he came back from an injury that has kept him out of action most of the season.
Josh Cizmadia won 2-0 at 145 pounds and Jake Hart got a much needed second period pin at 152 pounds to put Fort Mill up 27-16 before things fell apart down the stretch.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Fort Mill breezed through Laurens 52-19, with wins coming from Kelley, Johnson, Banny, Claassen, Cizmadia, Hart, Reese Key, Jacob Sturgeon, Mason Kovacs and Caden Haverson.
The Jackets will now turn their attention to the individual Upper State tournament Feb. 16-17 at Laurens High School to see who qualifies for the 5A state tournament, held again at the Anderson Civic Center this year the weekend of Feb. 23-24.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM