Four area wrestlers were top winners in their weight classes out of 350 competitors from three states in the prestigious Bearcat Invitational Tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Rock Hill High School.
Rock Hill’s Devin Faile, Nation Ford’s Josh Driscoll, and York’s Beau Nunn and Robert Cunningham took home gold medals for their individual performances.
The first-place finishes came against top competition from 25 schools in South Carolina, North Carolina, and one from Georgia in the 34th edition of the annual event.
Faile, who wrestles in the 106-pound class, recorded a second-period pinfall to secure the title.
Having finished fourth at the event last season, Faile credits the win to “tough love,” from the Bearcats coaching staff.
“I have been in matches where I saw myself bleeding, but the coaches stayed on me and kept pushing me,” Faile said. “They always made me work as hard as I can. I can now say that it was worth it.”
Cunningham and Nunn represented the Cougars well in the 126- and 285-pound classes, respectively.
Nunn, who recently played in the North-South football game, just got back on the mat for the first time last Thursday since the all-star contest. He is now 6-0 on the season.
Having wrestled as a freshman, Nunn is back resuming his wrestling career, and appears to have not lost a beat with a third-period pin-fall victory in the finals.
“The key was to keep pushing on his head and to stay aggressive,” Nunn said. “That is the key when wrestling in the heavyweight classes.”
Driscoll captured the 220-pound title with a hard-earned decision over Rock Hill’s Cameron Bell.
“I always focus on developing and sharpening my skills and that really helped me in this match,” said Driscoll, who finished sixth in last year’s Bearcat Invitational.
As a team, Rock Hill placed second with an overall score of 190.5 points. North Carolina’s Parkland captured the overall title with 259.5 points, and Boiling Springs was third with 175.
York came in sixth with 139.5. Nation Ford totaled 73.5, while Lancaster and Clover rounded out the area schools with 59 and 43 points, respectively.
Bearcats coach Cain Beard, who had four wrestlers in the finals, said that the tournament will make his team better come state tournament time in February.
“This will no doubt prepare us; this is the type of competition that we will see in the state duals,” Beard said. “Parkland won the North Carolina state championship for six or seven years in a row.
“So we will be better prepared for big matches. You do not get better by wrestling against wrestlers from the same teams all the time. A tournament like this gives us a chance to look at talent from other teams from all over.”
Cody Carnes of Lake Norman High School was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the conclusion of Saturday night’s finals.
1. Parkland 259.5; 2. Rock Hill 190.5; 3. Lake Norman -A 188; 4. Boiling Springs 175; 5. Dorman 157.5; 6. Sun Valley 149.5; 7. York 139.5 ; 8. Kings Mountain 101.5; 9. Bamberg-Ehrhardt 99.5 ; 10. West Henderson 84; 11. Forest View 84; 11. Stratford 82; 13. AL Brown 76; 14. Ashbrook 67.5; 15. Cuthbertson 68; 16. Greenville 64; 17. Lancaster 59; 18. Westside 54; 19. Ardrey Kell 50; 20. Easley 47.5; 21. Clover 43; 22. Spartanburg 29; 23. Lake Norman-B 26; 24. Augusta Christian 0.