With a preseason ranking of No. 5 in the state, the Fort Mill wrestling team will open the season this week in a three-way battle against Dutch Fork and Westwood.
Fort Mill returns three state qualifiers in Jake Hart, Brody Claassen and Jacob Sturgeon. The three are also among a group of seven starters overall returning for another season. Over the past two seasons, Fort Mill has graduated 17 wrestlers, including eight last year.
“We are going to have some young spots,” head coach Chris Brock said. “We should be in the hunt to contend. We have enough talent in the lineup to put up the numbers to win.”
Fort Mill finished in the top four in the state after falling to Rock Hill in the Upper State finals last season.
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Brock said Fort Mill’s lineup is thin from 182 pounds and up, with only one wrestler with much experience — Jack Kelley at 220 pounds — in the upper weight classes. Fort Mill has eight seniors on the squad to go with five juniors and a handful of other underclassmen.
“We will be depending on the seniors,” Brock said.
Fort Mill’s schedule won’t be easy this year, including this week’s opener at Dutch Fork before competing in the annual Southern Slam Dec. 1-2. The Jackets’ first home meet will be Dec. 5 against South Pointe before hosting the Beef O’ Brady’s Classic Dec. 8-9. Fort Mill will also head to the Low Country for the Coastal Clash and then the Wildcat Duals in Lexington. Both of those tournaments are held over the Christmas break.
Coming off a Region IV championship last year, Fort Mill will collide with Rock Hill eventually as the two will likely again battle for the region title. Fort Mill got the win over the Bearcats in the regular season to grab the title, but lost to them in the playoffs. The date for their dual is set for Jan. 11 at Rock Hill.
Also in January, Fort Mill will be heading to Johnson City, Tenn., for a tournament Jan 12-13. Fort Mill will wrestle the majority of its region schedule after the Tennessee tournament with the playoffs starting in February.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM