SCMAT Exclusive Wrestling Article 12-30-11

South Carolina high school wrestling ... in the beginning
In the beginning ....
Spartanburg Day School hallway
1962 hallways of the first South Carolina high school to start varsity wrestling
SCMAT begins a six part series covering the early years of high school wrestling in South Carolina. In these Exclusive articles, we will start with the years before the first SCHSL State Tournament in 1969, and go back to the start of high school wrestling in the state, beginning in 1962. You may be surprised to discover a small private school led the way for S.C. wrestling for many years until larger schools finally developed their programs. Unfortunately, the school that launched S.C. high school wrestling no longer has a wrestling team today. Our six part series will turn towards the influences that occurred at the college level to develop high school wrestling in SC, as well as the early high school teams in the Upper, Lower and Mid state. Finally, we will conclude the series with complete details on the first three seasons of sanctioned high school wrestling through the SCHSL (1969, 1970, 1971). Though many years of research, stories and results have been gathered, SCMAT welcomes additional information if you'd like to contribute to this series. Send your information to scmat@hotmail.com In the beginning .... South Carolina high school wrestling started later than the majority of other states. For a quick read up on an earlier SCMAT article of this topic, click on this story about SC high school wrestling being first sanctioned in 1968-1969. However, when it finally caught on, it took off, producing a 1988 Greco-Roman Olympic placer and USA Wrestling Development Coach in Ike Anderson from Lower Richland H.S. and later several top NCAA D1 college coaches in Tom Borrelli from Goose Creek H.S. and Dan Wirnsberger from Greer H.S. These are just a few great South Carolina wrestlers that arose out of the first 20 years. Just check our record books for more wrestling names: South Carolina College/U.S./World Wrestling Records South Carolina High School Wrestling Records South Carolina Additional Wrestling Records But, before any of South Carolina's greatest wrestlers could have taken the mat, there had to be coaches and wrestlers that were dedicated to launching the first wrestling programs state wide. These next 6 articles intend to cover all these greats. When SCMAT was expanding coverage a few years ago and started to build a history book on Top 4 Placers at every SC Individual State Wrestling Tournament, a discovery was made in the Greenville Library scanning through many years of microfiche. An article on the first high school wrestling tournament in S.C. shattered some original stories passed down over the years that gave credit to other large public schools as producing the first SC high school varsity wrestling team. As this SCMAT exclusive article will reveal, a small private school in Spartanburg actually started the first varsity wrestling team and had to compete in North Carolina for many years until the the first annual Furman University Invitational High School Wrestling Tournament, held on January 21 1967, provided Spartanburg Day School with a chance to get their due recognition. Four additional schools had just started their varsity wrestling programs between 1965 and 1966 ... the results of this first S.C. high school wrestling tournament follow: 1967 Furman University Invitational High School Wrestling Tournament 1st place - Spartanburg Day School - 111 points 2nd place tie - Daniel - 89 points 2nd place tie - CA Johnson - 89 points 4th place - Belton-Honea Path - 40 points 5th place - Westminster (now West-Oak) - 39 points A multi-year quest took place to find out more about Spartanburg Day School and their early wrestling programs. A trip to the school and conversations with their first two wrestling coaches, Tim McCorkle and Dexter Davison, provided the depth of this story. Let's roll the history pages back about 50 years ... arriving in 1962 ... 1962-1963
1963 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
1962-1963 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
Spartanburg Day School opened it's doors as a private school in September 1957. Roger Milliken was a founder and builder of Spartanburg Day School. His influence in S.C. would bring many new jobs to the region and eventually a wrestling team. Mr. Milliken was a Textile magnate and philanthropist, recently passing in Spartanburg at the age of 95. The first Headmaster, Harry Groblewski, took part in the ground breaking with Roger Milliken. Harry Groblewski had some wrestling background from his days in Massachusetts and asked a teacher and former wrestler out of Westminster in Atlanta, Tim McCorkle, if he would start a wrestling program. In 1962, the varsity wrestling team at Spartanburg Day School was founded. Canvas mats were tied together as a practice location in the Assembly room in the early years until a few years later when a dedicated practice room, wrestling mat and Gym became reality. The school yearbook did not indicate any matches were held that first year, but approximately 16 students became the core of the wrestling team and made significant progress in practice. Harry Groblewski in 1937 at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA - first Headmaster Spartanburg Day School
Harry Groblewski in 1937 at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Later he became the first Headmaster at Spartanburg Day School and asked Tim McCorkle to start a varsity wrestling team.
Coach Tim McCorkle - Spartanburg Day School wrestling 1962-1966
Coach Tim McCorkle Spartanburg Day School wrestling coach 1962-1966
1963 Spartanburg Day School photo 1
1963 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1963 Spartanburg Day School photo 2
1963 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1963 Spartanburg Day School photo 3
1963 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1963-1964
1964 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
1963-1964 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
The 1964 yearbook at Spartanburg Day School mentioned matches that were taking place during the season. No scores were listed, however the coaching staff recalls competition coming from N.C. schools. Headmaster Harry Groblewski resigned at the end of this school year. He was an advocate of wrestling and insisted on the program when it started in 1962. 1964 Spartanburg Day School photo 1
1964 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1964-1965
1965 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
1964-1965 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
The wrestling team at Spartanburg Day School made it to the dual match scoreboard in the yearbook! Opponents out of Charlotte, Winston Salem and Asheville provided six matches during the season. Spartanburg Day School compiled a record of 3-2-1 during the 1964-1965 season. 1965 Spartanburg Day School photo 1
1965 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1965 Spartanburg Day School photo 2
1965 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1965-1966
1966 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
1965-1966 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
The Seth Milliken Gymnasium was dedicated in December of 1965 at Spartanburg Day School. Spartanburg Day School wrestled 8 dual matches in the 1965-1966 season, including the first high school wrestling match between two South Carolina schools - facing Daniel H.S. Daniel High School became the second South Carolina high school to start wrestling. Wrestling was added as the 7th varsity sport at Daniel in the 1965-1966 season, primarily as a good conditioning sport for football players, but they would become quite successful. Two matches between Spartanburg Day School and Daniel were held during the season, with the following results: Spartanburg Day School 30, Daniel 13 Spartanburg Day School 28, Daniel 13 Spartanburg Day School (SDS) would finish the dual match season 5-3, facing N.C. schools in 6 of those 8 bouts. In addition, a JV wrestling team at SDS began competing and was undefeated on the season. 1966-1967
1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
1966-1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling team
Coach Dexter Davison - Spartanburg Day School 1966-1969
Coach Dexter Davison Spartanburg Day School wrestling coach 1966-1969
Coach Dexter Davison, a former wrestler out of the state of Oklahoma, took over the Spartanburg Day School team in 1966 when Tim McCorkle would make the move to become Assistant Headmaster at James F. Byrnes Academy in Florence and later Headmaster at Wilson Hall in Sumter. Coach Davison's team would flourish and be recognized as the best high school wrestling team in S.C. for the 1966-1967 season, winning the first annual Furman University Invitational High School Wrestling Tournament. Coach Bob Bonheim, head wrestling coach at Furman University, started to hold wrestling clinics at local high schools and this prompted a significant growth in high school wrestling programs in the Upstate programs over the next few years. Though this appeared to be an advantage for the Upstate high schools, we will find in some later articles in this series that the Lower State high schools would catch up quickly with the help of dedicated H.S. coaches and clinics from The Citadel. As mentioned earlier, the first annual Furman University Invitational High School Wrestling Tournament was held on January 21, 1967. Spartanburg Day School defeated the other four high school wrestling programs in South Carolina at that time. Daniel began a varsity wrestling team in 1965-1966 and by 1966 there were also varsity wrestling teams at CA Johnson, Belton-Honea Path and Westminster. 1967 Spartanburg Day School photo 1
1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook John Featherson (SDS) pursuing back points
1967 Spartanburg Day School photo 2
1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Jody Paul (SDS) on left was undefeated in S.C.
1967 Spartanburg Day School photo 3
1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1967 Spartanburg Day School photo 4
1967 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook
1967-1968
This wrestling season would become the last covered in the yearbooks at Spartanburg Day School. Due to multiple factors, such as changes in enrollment and advancement of other winter sports, the wrestling program was dropped at Spartanburg Day School somewhere in the next year, '68 or '69. The brief wrestling dynasty was a great start for H.S. wrestling in S.C., one we will not forget. The dual matches for Spartanburg Day School would see their season finish at 2-5, with 6 of those 7 bouts against North Carolina schools. Daniel H.S., out of S.C., gained advantage in their lone season match up with a 31-13 victory. The tide had turned to the bigger schools finally gaining more experience. 1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 1
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook John Featherston (SDS) in control on top
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 2
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Peter Lyttle (SDS) attempting to complete a single leg takedown
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 3
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook John Featherston (SDS) keeps opponent flat
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 4
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Andy Rogers (SDS) struggles to maintain control
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 5
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Jody Paul (SDS) completing takedown
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 6
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Al New (SDS) attacks for takedown points
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 7
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Jody Paul (SDS) in practice with JV wrestler, Jeff Haslam ... this was a joke shot for the yearbook!
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 8
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Mike Murphy (SDS) looking for a turn and back points
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 9
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook John Featherston (SDS) on right with a tie up
1968 Spartanburg Day School photo 10
1968 Spartanburg Day School wrestling photo from yearbook Chris Stephenson (SDS) works a guillotine
To the coaches and wrestlers at Spartanburg Day School in the 1960's, we express gratitude and thanks for starting high school wrestling in South Carolina. Special thanks to Coach Tim McCorkle and Coach Dexter Davison for sharing their stories. This concludes our first in the series of covering the early years of high school wrestling in South Carolina. In January, our six part series will turn towards the influences that occurred at the college level to develop high school wrestling in SC, as well as the early high school teams in the Upper, Lower and Mid state. 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 to scmat@hotmail.com thanks, Mark Buford NOTE - Photos were provided during a visit to Spartanburg Day School.