Northwestern is Rock Hill's rival in just about every sport.
But when it comes to wrestling, Rock Hill's top rival is Fort Mill. Tonight at 7, the Bearcats host the Yellow Jackets in a match that will determine the region title. With that comes home mat advantage in the state duals tournament, which begins Monday.
Rock Hill is No. 4 in the state, Fort Mill No. 5.
After a long history of being the top wrestling program in the state, Rock Hill has slipped in recent years. Under former coach Jim Barnes, the Bearcats won more than 400 matches and 13 Class AAAA state championships, including one in 2000, his final season.
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Barnes was replaced by Tim Wash. Chris Brock, a former Rock Hill wrestler and assistant under Barnes, left to take over the wrestling program at Fort Mill.
Brock's Yellow Jackets have steadily climbed and are considered among the state's elite programs. The only thing to escape Fort Mill's grasp has been a Class AAAA state championship.
Fort Mill, region champ the last two years, has been close. The Yellow Jackets have made it to the final eight seven times and the final four five times, including last year. Brock's team ended up 25-3.
"This match is going to come down to being another tight one like all of them between us are,'' Brock said. "There are some weight classes where they are favorites, some where we are.
"I see seven or eight matches going either way. But although they are even, Rock Hill is strong and technical. We have to stay in those matches, keep it tight and come out on top.''
Rock Hill was up and down under Wash, but made it to the championship match in 2005 and lost to Summerville. Cain Beard, in his first season at Rock Hill, is the Bearcats' second coach since Wash left in 2006. He has restored the Bearcats' pride, but knows the Yellow Jackets will roll into town ready to rumble.
"It should be a very interesting night,'' Beard said. " I am sure it's going to be chess match between us.
"Chris does a great job, and they have a great team. I'm sure they'll be ready for us. The match will ultimately come down to which team is able to get pins and not give up pins.''
In other words, it will come down to desire and which team wants it the most. Beard's wrestlers know about desire. The Bearcats are 25-1 overall and 6-0 in Region 3-AAAA. The Yellow Jackets are 16-1 overall and 6-0 in the region, and Fort Mill's wrestlers will want it just as much.
Rock Hill has no returning individual state champions. Fort Mill has two in John Green at 119 pounds and James Brotemarkle at 125. Green is No. 1 in the state in his weight class.
Wt. Fort Mill Rock Hill
103 Germaine Truesdale Weston Beck
112 John Green Seth Beck
119 Colby Hice Cole Brock
125 Zach Doran J.T. Charettte
130 James Brotemarkle A.J. Boyd
135 John Etell Darshaey Moore
140 Cody Melton James Jennings
145 Jonathon Miskelly Chase Ballard
152 Thomas Mockridge Josh Tuck
160 Mac Wells Corey Tretsky
171 Mike Medema Corwin Showalter
189 Max Simmons Joey Berry
215 Cody Cunningham Jody Helms
285 Garrett Passastore Josh Tucker