SCMAT Exclusive Wrestling Article 11-15-07

How many Freshman State Champs hit an off-year?

John Green.jpg

John Green of Fort Mill

Jacob Mitchell.jpg

Jacob Mitchell of South Pointe

The 2006-2007 was a banner year for record setting by our Freshman class of wrestlers in South Carolina.  
Five State Champions were Freshman and that has never been done before in 39 years of wrestling in SC!!!

Not only was the "5 in one year" a record, but we also saw two other records set.  

First, 4A had never seen 2 freshman state champions in one season.  John Green of Fort Mill at 112 lbs. and
Jacob Mitchell of South Pointe at 103 lbs. (both pictured above) established a first in 4A.  Congratulations guys!  
3A and 2A-1A had achieved that mark before in 1987 and 1978 respectively.

Second, a 1A team had never had a freshman state champion!  And Chesterfield breaks the record with 2 in one year 
in the 2A-1A tourney!  Congratulations to Elijah Burr and Ian Harper, as well as Coach Lance Abernathy.  
What a fantastic program going on there at Chesterfield!!

I must admit, that there is an outside chance someone will let me know about a freshman state champ
that I missed on the list below.  Please send me any names left off this list to
I think the list is thorough, but I count on feedback to set the record straight if necessary!

But, to get to the focus of this article, how many Freshman State Champs hit an off-year?
How many times do freshman state champs fall short of the ultimate goal of 4 state titles?

We have had 34 wrestlers in South Carolina win an individual State Championship as a freshman.
12 of those still have years of eligibility left.  10 of those 12 can obtain 4 titles!

Since we have had 8 wrestlers total, obtaining the elite status of 4X State Champions, let's look at the list
of freshman state champs.  Hard to believe it took 35 years to produce 8 wrestlers as 4 time state champions 
and in the last 3 years we now have another 10 wrestlers working on their goal of 4 state titles!  At some
point we will have to figure out if the recent surge is due to wrestlers starting at younger ages through
clubs, AAU, USA Wrestling ... or if coaching has gotten better ... or if overall talent has gotten weaker ... 
I'm guessing it's the first and second of these assumptions.

Freshman State Champions in South Carolina:

Year	Wt	Tourney	School	Wrestler		School Name	Coach			Overall State Titles
-----	----	-------	------	------------------	-------------	----------------	--------------------
2007	103	4A	4A	Jacob	Mitchell	South Pointe	Eddie Cook		1 (3 seasons to go)
2007	112	4A	4A	John	Green		Fort Mill	Chris Brock		1 (3 seasons to go)
2007	103	2A-1A	1A	Elijah	Burr		Chesterfield	Lance Abernathy		1 (3 seasons to go)
2007	112	2A-1A	1A	Ian	Harper		Chesterfield	Lance Abernathy		1 (3 seasons to go)
2007	140	2A-1A	2A	Nick	Proveddi	Crescent	Chris Strickland	1 (3 seasons to go)
2006	103	4A	4A	Brandon	Feix		Fort Mill	Chris Brock		1 (2 seasons to go)
2006	103	3A	3A	Eddie	Coles		Eastside	Jack Kosmicki		2 (2 seasons to go)
2006	112	2A-1A	2A	Eric	Rholetter	West-Oak	Jeffrey Jordan		2 (2 seasons to go)
2005	103	3A	3A	Bryce	Martin		Eastside	Jack Kosmicki		2 (1 season to go)
2005	112	3A	3A	Corbin	Martin		Eastside	Jack Kosmicki		3 (1 season to go)
2005	112	2A-1A	2A	Dalton	Harper		Chesterfield	Lance Abernathy		3 (1 season to go)
2005	171	2A-1A	2A	Jonathan Willard	Loris		Thomas Britt		3 (1 season to go)
2004	135	3A	3A	J.C.	Oddo		Eastside	Jack Kosmicki		4
2003	103	4A	4A	Elliot	Courter		Mauldin		Mike Frye		1
2003	103	3A	3A	Matt	Leach		Eastside	Jack Kosmicki		4
2002	103	2A-1A	2A	Rocky	Phillips	Loris		James Wright		2
2001	103	4A	4A	Kyle	Kimrey		Dutch Fork	B.D. LaPrad		3
1998	103	2A-1A	2A	Chip	Sandifer	West-Oak	Mark Holliday		3
1997	215	3A	3A	Ben	Connell		Lugoff-Elgin	Tim Wash		4
1997	103	2A-1A	2A	Jeremy	Moseley		Chapin		Bob Taylor		3
1996	103	4A	4A	Chris	Collins		Rock Hill	Jim Barnes		3
1995	130	4A	4A	Robby	Bell		Hillcrest	Rick Kreiner		4
1994	145	4A	4A	Shawn	Petties		Rock Hill	Jim Barnes		2
1992	103	2A-1A	2A	Derrick	Campbell	Blue Ridge	Malcolm Singleton	1
1987	98	3A2A1A	3A	James	Creech		Dreher		Joe Soltish		2
1987	112	3A2A1A	3A	Dan	Wirnsberger	Greer		Jim Few			4
1986	98	4A	4A	Howard	Jones		Spartanburg 	Tim Remaley		1
1982	105	2A-1A	2A	Ray	Lloyd		Buford		Joe Funderburk		1
1980	105	4A	4A	Bruce	Gault		Irmo		B.D. LaPrad		1
1980	105	2A-1A	2A	Joe	Shelble		Chapin		Paul Lareau		2
1978	105	4A	4A	Teddy	Fitts		Airport		Jim Barnes		1
1978	98	2A-1A	2A	James	McKinney	Buford		Joe Funderburk		4
1978	132	2A-1A	2A	Barnell	Mack		Swansea		Frank Shealy		4
1975	145	4A->1A	4A	Carl	Van Sewell	Airport		Jim Barnes		4

Interesting Trivia Fact #1 --- Most Interesting Freshman Final's result - Not to take anything away from the most dominating 
wrestler in South Carolina history (possibly my opinion only), but Ben Connell of Lugoff-Elgin (winner of 4 state titles, 
winner of the NHSCA Senior National Champion at HWT and winner of the 2000 National Dave Schultz High School Award  
honoring the best high school wrestler) won his freshman state title by Disqualification ... The wrestler Ben Connell 
would have faced in the Finals was aggressively cheering matside for one of his teammates during an earlier match 
and was DQed.  I'm assuming Ben Connell would have won if they had wrestled, but the trivial interest remains!!

Interesting Trivia Fact #2 --- 2nd most Interesting Freshman Final's result - Bruce Gault of Irmo required 3 Overtimes to 
win his freshman title 4-3, but would only achieve the one title.  After being shocked in a semi-final upset his sophomore 
year and placing 3rd, Gault left the sport.  I graduated from Irmo as his wrestling partner for those two seasons, always
one weight class above him.  My first knee injury (and surgery after the season) came from an intense practice scrapping 
with Bruce Gault during my Junior season, his Freshman season.  I made C's and B's in English back then and narrow A's in 
Math (fortunately my Math teacher was a former wrestler) ... somehow I ended up being a number cruncher working on computers 
that stayed in wrestling and really would rather not have to write all of this history down.  Since I did not win a state title, 
I now have the ultimate drive to produce the South Carolina History book on wrestling.  1-2 years away, I'm practicing here.

Interesting Trivia Fact #3 --- I find it "fitting and deserving" that Coach Joe Funderburk of Buford H.S. became the first
2A-1A coach to coach a 4x state champion, James McKinney, (less than an hour before the next 2A-1A wrestler, Barnell Mack, 
would achieve the same result).  Coach Funderburk wrestled in the very first State Tournament in 1969.  I can not wait to
tell the stories of 1969 and when South Carolina's first wrestlers and coaches launched our sport's journey here in SC!

Interesting Trivia Fact #4 --- Same school, Same year, 2 freshman - 2 times this has occured.  Eastside in 2005 when the 
Martin twins, Bryce and Corbin would both win state titles.  Chesterfield pulled the double hat trick last season with 
Elijah Burr and Ian Harper.  I guess within this trivia, you have to give credit to the Martin twins for being the only
brothers to ever both win titles as freshman!

Interesting Trivia Fact #5 --- Forget the Sophomore Jinx, try the Junior/Senior Jinx -- James Creech of Dreher would win 
state titles as a Freshman and Sophomore but lose in Overtime of the State Finals his Junior year 10-8 and then make the 
State Finals again his Senior year but lose 5-5 by Judge's decision.  An Outstanding career none the less!!!  Of the four
wrestlers that completed their prep careers with 3 state titles, only one (Kyle Kimrey) was hit with the Sophomore jinx.

Interesting Trivia Fact #6 --- Unlucky breaks --- Chip Sandifer, Jeremy Moseley and Shawn Petties all experienced injuries
to halt their quest for 4 titles.  Sandifer would not complete his senior year wrestling due to an injury, Moseley would 
not complete his junior year wrestling due to a broken arm (a parked car rolled over it while rescuing a cat, honest!) 
and Petties would not complete his sophomore year wrestling due to an injury (broken arm I believe) from football.

Interesting Trivia Fact #7 --- About 75% of all freshman state champions (26 out of the 34) are in the 112 lbs. weight class 
or below. These weight classes will usually be pretty freshman dominated, however with 219 state champions in 39 years that 
were at 112 lbs. or below, that averages to about 11% of the champions in those classes were freshman.  It's still hard
to win as a freshman!

To wrap things up, freshman wrestlers can make a difference, and they have made a big difference here in South Carolina!
Most continue their success after banner seasons to start their prep careers, though few will win 4 state titles.
Some will become fortunate (as well as skilled and talented) to achive the highest goal and find four gold medals hanging 
on their bedroom wall or framed one day.  We can congratulate those from the past and now watch to see what the next active
classes will achieve.

Hopefully in this SCMAT exclusive article for 2007-2008 the history of SC wrestling is defining itself as 
an exciting past with a future awaiting more greatness.

These historical articles at SCMAT will hopefully provide accurate facts though we may always have missed
some data at some point.  If you notice a correction, addition or just want to comment please send a reply 

Mark Buford