Fort Mill needs to get a grip on Nation Ford for postseason berth

Fort Mill wrestler Brian Kelley tightens his grip on a Northwestern opponent in a recent win.
Fort Mill wrestler Brian Kelley tightens his grip on a Northwestern opponent in a recent win.
Fort Mill Brian Kelly goes for the pin against a Northwestern opponent in a recent match. The Yellow Jackets need a win over rival Nation Ford High to solidify their postseason position.

Editors’ note: The following story is based on contributed information

FORT MILL – With two more wins in Region III, the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets wrestling team has set itself up for a pivotal meet against cross-town rival Nation Ford Tuesday.

Fort Mill is 2-1 in the region and Nation Ford is 1-2. Both teams need a win to secure a playoff spot as only the top three teams out of the region will make the postseason. Both could still make the playoffs as a wild card teams, but the only guarantees require a win Tuesday.

The Jackets beat Northwestern 56-15 and Clover 43-28 in a tri-meet recently, giving them some good momentum heading into their meet at Nation Ford.

Even after the recent  wins, Fort Mill head coach Chris Brock said his team isn’t performing up to the standards set  earlier in the season.

“With the loss to Rock Hill (earlier in the season), we have lessened our chance to win the region,” Brock said.

“We are wrestling for the highest finish we can get. Northwestern puts some incredible athletes on the mat and Clover is very deep. We are luck to get out of here with a win. We aren’t wrestling like we were earlier in the season and I don’t know why.”

In both matches, Fort Mill led from the opening. Against Northwestern, the Jackets scored the first 40 points jumping out to a 40-0 lead after winning the first seven matches. Fort Mill got wins from Bella Hoffman (106), Sebastian Colon (113), Ethan Johnson (120), Joshua Sturgeon (126), Mason Kovacs (132), Kishawn Smith (138) and Brian Kelley (145) to open the dual.

After dropping two straight matches, Fort Mill won four straight to finish the dual as Aubrey Schaffer (170), Dylan Honaker (182), Jack Kelley (195) and Reese Key (220) all won.

Clover was a tougher opponent  for the Jackets, who didn’t clinch the win until late in the dual. Fort Mill jumped out to a 14-0 lead with wins from Colon, Johnson and Sturgeon, but then just won one of the next three weight classes as Smith picked up a win at 138. Fort Mill got wins from Josh Cizmadia (152) and Logan Farlow (160) before its next loss.

Honaker and Jack Kelley both got wins by decision to clinch the meet, before Key finished the winning for Fort Mill with a second period pin.

Fort Mill now looks to focus on Nation Ford. With a win, Fort Mill can finish second in the region, which would still put them on the road for the first two rounds of the playoffs, which begins Feb. 2.