SCMAT Exclusive Wrestling Article 12-4-07

The chase for 211 ... T.T. Prayther
could make it a classic season
TT Prayther.jpg T.T. Prayther of North Myrtle Beach T.T. Prayther of North Myrtle Beach has a remote, outside shot at surpassing the South Carolina career wins record established at 210 wins last season by Eastside's J.C. Oddo. This article is not to put a lot of emphasis on T.T. or the magical career wins record. Instead, I'd like to present a series of observations and SC statistics which enlighten us a bit more to our cultural fascination with "the chase". For those of you that are my age you probably recall the days when so many sports figures were approaching a magical number in the record book. My first memories are of Hank Aaron approaching Babe Ruth's 714. I watched every game that season as the homeruns accumulated, and I even saved many newspaper clippings, which reside today in the same scrapbook I had as a youngster. I watched on TV as the 715th homerun was hit and celebrated in the den of my mom's house with relief and happiness for the Atlanta slugger. The Wide World of Sports was always a place on the weekend to watch the "agony of defeat" ... for some reason that's all I remember ... a skier going down a ramp and wiping out with the announcement that someone chasing a sport's dream just experienced the "agony of defeat". I recall watching many a weekend attempt by Evil Knievel at the next record he was attempting to break. He was a record setter and I saw him break many. Within this year, Hank's record was broken and Evil passed away. Where did time go? Such is the fate of South Carolina wrestling records. They reside intact for a year or few and then the records fall. J.C. Oddo became the first SC wrestler to surpass 200 wins last season. This season, one wrestler has a decent shot at catching the record, or at least certainly passing the 200 win mark and becoming the 2nd SC wrestler ever to achieve that goal. Let's quickly look at where History has been and where it may end up going. All time career wins record was set last season: 210 - J.C. Oddo, Eastside (2004-2007) Active Wrestlers with a chance to have 3-4 state titles and how their career wins stood after last season (some wrestlers not on this list have not submitted records): 153 - T.T. Prayther, North Myrtle Beach (2005-2008) 150 - Dalton Harper, Chesterfield (2005-2008) 149 - Chip Hester, North Myrtle Beach (2005-2008) 135 - Trey Alley, Chesterfield (2005-2008) 130 - Jonathon Willard, Loris (2005-2008) 100 - Eric Rholetter, West-Oak (2006-2009) 83 - Eddie Coles, Eastside (2006-2009) With most wrestlers gaining 50+ or 60+ matches a season, the chances of a wrestler achieving 200-240 wins in a season has become a reality. First though, an outstanding freshman year will help. Most wrestlers begin peaking in their junior and senior seasons, so finding the ability to achieve early success as a freshman and sophomore is the only way to reach 200 wins. Let's look at what the SCMAT records (maintained over the years) show us as far as the changes in who held the all time career record for wins. This list may have missed someone along the way, so please let me know of any changes you see (e-mail me at mark@scmat.com). We will begin when the 100 career wins mark was first broken and look at every year the new record was tied or broken. Year Name Team Career Wins ----- -------------- ------------ ----------- 2007 J.C. Oddo Eastside 210 2006 Matt Leach Eastside 199 2002 Brent Poynter Eastside 183 1999 Chris Collins Rock Hill 183 1998 Travis Drake Cheraw 158 1995 Craig Stephenson Summerville 148 1994 Clay Cavanaugh Lexington 139 1993 Lamont Smith Berea 136 1990 Dan Wirnsberger Greer 119 1989 Chris Burns Summerville 101 1988 Scott Will Riverside 101 Let's now take a moment to look at the record book from another angle. Let's look at the record for greatest number of "wins" each season over the years. This list may have missed someone along the way, so please let me know of any changes you see (e-mail me at mark@scmat.com). Believe it or not, since wrestling began in South Carolina 39 years ago, we seem to find a way to add 1 match a year to a wrestler's season. In the days when I wrestled at Irmo, we averaged almost 30 matches a season (dual and tournament). Since I graduated in 1981, the number of matches in a season made it past 40 and then 50 and now 60 ... check out the progression below. The fact is, the wrestlers today that surpass 100 wins, 150 wins, 200 wins are not that much better (if at all) than the wrestlers that reached 75-100 wins in the 1970's or 1980's. There were superlative wrestlers in those days, many achieving collegiate success after high school, but the opportunities to have 200+ matches in a career or even go to something similar to High School Nationals (which started in 1990) were non-existant. I am glad the opportunities have risen considerably in 39 years to put SC wrestlers on the national map, but I also want to make sure today's wrestlers do not forget the early achievers in wrestling that have helped bring SC to this point. Success breeds success and as you can see below, we may not have hit the pinnacle of record achievement just yet. In fact, it took a wrestler like Cael Sanderson 74 years to set a collegiate record that had never been accomplished since wrestling held it's first NCAA Wrestling Team Championship on March 30-31, 1928 on the campus of Iowa State College. Cael Sanderson went undefeated in four years of college wrestling (159-0), including four consecutive NCAA titles (1999-2002) and was the first NCAA wrestler to go undefeated with more than 100 wins. Sports Illustrated named his college career as the No. 2 most outstanding achievement in college history. Sanderson had a 127-3 record in high school with four state titles. My guess is, within my lifetime - which is expected to go another 40+ years, a South Carolina wrestler will go undefeated in high school and win 4 state titles, ala Cael. Let's wait and see who sets this record, but I guarantee you it will happen one day and I will live to see it. Okay, here is the next list with the greatest number of wins logged each season when results were submitted to the media or SCMAT (send updates/additions to mark@scmat.com): Year Wrestler Team Record Milestone ---- --------------- ------------------- ------ -------------------------------- 1972 Tom Perry Middleton 24-2 1975 Tony Turkett Summerville 26-1 1976 Roland Cromwell Fort Johnson 27-0-1 1977 Dana Opperman Wade Hampton 26-0 1978 Freddie Gist Northwestern 28-1 1979 Jody Taylor Wade Hampton 31-0 First year 30+ wins was achieved 1980 John Feldhacker Belton-Honea Path 31-0 1981 Robert Sinteff Summerville 28-1 1982 Robert Liptak Mauldin 31-2 1982 Dwayne Hayes Hanahan 31-0 1983 Bruce Ladson James Island 29-1 1984 Pernell Brockington St. Andrews 30-0 1987 Keith Harris Rock Hill 31-0 1988 John Broadbent Eastside 31-0 1989 Tory Stock Belton-Honea Path 36-0 1990 Ramon Miller Rock Hill 36-0 1991 Mark O'Brien Summerville 39-2-1 1992 Morris Brice Rock Hill 40-1 First year 40+ wins was achieved 1993 Craig Stephenson Mauldin 41-2 1994 Clay Cavanaugh Lexington 43-1 1995 Lamont Hicks Rock Hill 43-5 1996 Nick DiBennedetto Rock Hill 49-1 1997 Gene Hawkins Hartsville 47-0 1998 Travis Drake Cheraw 47-0 1999 Dale Phillips Berkeley 53-4 First year 50+ wins was achieved 2000 Myron Drayton Berkeley 53-2 2001 Chris Reyes Berkeley 56-3 2002 Brent Poynter Eastside 49-0 2003 Alex Piper Hilton Head 56-0 2004 J.C. Oddo Eastside 58-0 2005 Zach Berg Fort Mill 55-0 2005 Brantley Hooks Byrnes 55-0 2005 Matt Leach Eastside 55-0 2006 Chip Hester North Myrtle Beach 54-1 2006 Brantley Hooks Byrnes 54-0 __________________________________________________________________________________________ 2007 T.T. Prayther North Myrtle Beach 63-1 First year 60+ wins was achieved & 2007 Eric Rholetter West-Oak 62-2 four wrestlers surpassed the mark 2007 Ian Harper Chesterfield 60-1 2007 Chip Hester North Myrtle Beach 60-3 To return for a moment to the wrestler in the spotlight today. T.T. Prayther is one of the best South Carolina wrestlers this year, if not the best. He wrestles for a school that did not even have a wrestling program until 2001 ... yes, 2001!! Here are some of T.T. Prayther's accomplishments so far: This season - T.T. won the highly competitive Panther Invitational in Georgia He had a 153-11 career record after his Junior season Set the SC single season mark for wins last year with 63 victories 2007 125 lbs. State Champion 2006 119 lbs. State Champion 2005 119 lbs. State Qualifier 2007 NHSCA National Open H.S. Wrestling Championships - 1st Place (National Champion) - 125 lbs. 2006 NHSCA National Open Pre-Season H.S. Wrestling Championships - 5th Place (All-American) - 119 lbs. 2005 NHSCA National Open Pre-Season H.S. Wrestling Championships - 7th Place - 119 lbs. If T.T. breaks the SC career win mark this season, it will be a season that adds to our record book. The "thrill of victory" is always going to be this year, and it's guaranteed someone's turn is coming up. I guess I remembered that part too from TV ... now that I recall, sports only had one moment of agony. And it was skiing. Check out our updated Career Win list below and let me know if we have additions to make: South Carolina High School Wrestling Records - Career Wins 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 to mark@scmat.com thanks, Mark Buford