For six years in a row, the Fort Mill High wrestling program has come away with a Southern Slam champion.
This year it was sophomore A.J. Leitten tearing through the competition to win the 126-pound weight class and Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Leitten went 4-0 in the tourney, beating Alex Standridge of Archer, Ga., by pin fall just 1:26 in the first period to win his weight class.
Leitten joins his brother, Nick Leitten, as the only brother duo in Fort Mill High history to win the event.
Nick Leitten, who now wrestles at Limestone College, won at 145 pounds in 2012.
Archer, the defending 6A Georgia state champions, won the 32-team event. Fort Mill finished 14th with a depleted squad, bringing just seven wrestlers to the event.
“We brought the kids we thought were ready to compete,” said Fort Mill head coach Chris Brock. “To place in this tournament is tough.”
Of the seven wrestlers Fort Mill brought, four placed in the tournament’s top eight.
Fort Mill had three other wrestlers place in the tournament. Junior John Brotemarkle finished fifth at 106 pounds with an 8-1 decision against Nation Ford’s Jeremy Kishbaugh, who finished sixth.
At 152 pounds, Fort Mill’s Jack Debbout beat Sumter’s Donovan Jones by pin in the second period, and at 138 pounds, the Yellow Jackets senior Jake Strong finished eighth after falling in the third period to Eastside’s David Walker.
Nation Ford had two wrestlers place in the tournament, with junior Dalen Byerley finishing second at 132 pounds after losing 9-1 to Archer’s Chris Diaz.
Nation Ford finished 21st.
Falcons head coach Leon Boulware called his team’s journey at the Southern Slam an improvement. The team also went 2-1 in the duals portion of the tournament to improve to 2-3 overall on the season.
“We are taking steps in the right direction,” Boulware said. “We are going after stronger teams early in the season to see what we have to work on. We are working to learn to finish.”
Earlier in the week, Nation Ford dropped dual matches to both South Pointe and Lexington. At the same event, Fort Mill beat South Pointe and Lexington but fell to Charlotte Latin at its home opener, 37-36.
Fort Mill will host the Beef o’ Brady’s tournament this weekend at Fort Mill High, with 14 teams from four states expected to make the trip.
Nation Ford will compete at the tournament as well.