Fort Mill Times

Editorial: Students make us proud in extra curriculars

As this school year winds down, we’d like to point out some impressive extra curricular achievements by local students since the winter break:

The Nation Ford High School Junior ROTC rifle team won its fifth consecutive Marine Corps national championship in Anniston, Ala. in February. Last month, Fort Mill High junior Brian Hampton and Nation Ford senior Hayden Briggs recently competed in the All-Services JROTC Air Rifle National Championships, which were held at Camp Perry, Ohio, and emerged among the tops in the U.S.

Briggs finished as the nation’s No. 2 shooter, scoring 557 on day 1 and 555 on day 2. The highlights of the day included a near-perfect score of 97 out of 100 possible points in the standing phase of the competition. Hampton had a day 2 score of 570, surpassing Briggs and setting a new U.S. Marine Corps record. Both will compete again on the national level in just a couple of months.

In a more academic-oriented activity, dozens of students from Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools performed at a state-level business competition to qualify for nationals this summer. Twenty-five students from Nation Ford High School’s Future Business Leaders of America club placed in the top four in their events in Charleston in March. Fort Mill High School has 21 FBLA students who qualified for nationals. They will compete with more than 10,000 FBLA students from across the nation in Atlanta in June.

A lone athlete from Fort Mill High recently experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. A.J. Leitten, a junior and a two-time state wrestling champion, completed an undefeated season before heading into the recent National High School Coaches Association National Wrestling Championships. Facing elite competition from states where wrestling is like what football is to the Carolinas, Leitten cruised into the sweet 16 in the 132-pound weight class after going 4-0 on the first day of competition.

However, a loss to the No. 1 seed and eventual champion – a Pennsylvania wrestler named Brian Courtney who likely has his pick of top Division 1 college programs – derailed Leitten for the first time all year. In our view, that rare setback does not diminish another superb season for Leitten, one of the best wrestlers in Fort Mill High history.

Last but not least, the Mock Trial Team at Fort Mill High won the S.C. title recently and will be competing for a national title in May.

The rigors of the classroom are challenging enough for most students. Those who also devote their time to the Fort Mill School District’s array of extra curricular activities are demonstrating dedication and desire that are above and beyond. The ones who excel regionally and at the state and national levels deserve special recognition.

For those who are finished competing for the year, we say take a bow. The students who have another opportunity to take the stage do so with our best wishes. To all of them, as well as their faculty leaders and other adults we say, well done! You have the respect and admiration of your community and you’ve made us all very proud.