Fort Mill Sports

Fort Mill High’s Leitten wins 4 matches at Nationals


As good a first day as Fort Mill High junior A.J. Leitten had in the opening of the National High School Coaches Association National Wrestling Championships, day two was anything but.

Leitten went 4-0 on the first day to reach the quarterfinals, but fell in consecutive matches for the first time all year and was eliminated from the tournament on day two. He was one win shy of earning All-American status. The tournament was again held in Virginia Beach, Va., this year and featured the top high school wrestlers from around the country vying for a national title.

Coming off his second consecutive state title and an undefeated season for the Yellow Jackets, Leitten was one of 96 wrestlers in the 132-pound weight class for the high school junior classification. He was one of only three wrestlers from South Carolina in that weight class. To qualify for the NHSCA Nationals, wrestlers have to reach the state finals in their weight class.

Leitten, the No. 8 seed, started off the tournament wrestling Andrew Douglas from Texas and won 11-1. In the second round, he scored a tech fall win over Florida’s Andrew Klopman 16-0 in the second period. Things got even better for Leitten in the third round match when he scored a pin fall in the first period using mostly tilts and cradles against Ohio’s Isaac Elliott for the win.

The third round win put Leitten into the Sweet 16 of his weight class and a match against ninth-seeded Philip Spadafora of New York. The match was the first to go the distance for Leitten in the tournament, but he came away with an 8-3 win to move into the quarterfinals against the No. 1 seed out of Pennsylvania, Brian Courtney.

Courtney went up quickly on Leitten 2-0 and led 2-1 after the first period. The action picked up in the second as Leitten went in for a shot and Courtney caught him in a cradle, which led to a pin. It was Leitten’s first loss of the tournament and the entire season.

That loss dropped Leitten to the consolation bracket, where he lost 7-2 to New Jersey’s Chris Scorese and was eliminated. Leitten fell behind 4-0 after the first period and was down 7-0 in the third before scoring a takedown with 10 seconds left in the match.

Mac Banks:, @MacBanksFM