CLOVER — The Clover High School wrestling team extended York to the limit, with the Cougars prevailing in a home match last week.
It appeared the Cougars, who won 33-31, were in command, but the visiting Clover grapplers staged a furious rally in the final stages.
“We won the last four matches,” said head coach Mike Fitzgerald after the match.
Fitzgerald praised his wrestlers’ performance against a York team ranked in the top 20 much of the season.
“I am proud of our kids,” said Fitzgerald. “They are a young team that is learning how to compete. We are closing the gap against York.”
Fitzgerald said the Blue Eagles’ late-season surge is timely. “It’s a good time to be competing successfully, with the region tournament coming up Feb. 1 at Fort Mill,” said Fitzgerald.
Ross Bradley, a sophomore who competes in the 170-pound weight class, won his match by decision.
“I earned four points for our team,” Bradley said after his match. “I knew I was quicker than my opponent, with a chance to take him down if the opportunity presented itself.”
Bradley has his own philosophy regarding the confidence factor when it’s time to compete. “If you have it in your head that you can beat your opponent, you will come out on top,” he said.
Harrison Priode, a senior Blue Eagle wrestler who competes in the 145-pound weight class, won by a major decision against the Cougars. “The key to winning is to be aggressive and to strive on top,” he said after the match.
Priode said his best friend got him interested in wrestling before middle school, when he began to compete.
Evan Johnson, a sophomore wrestling competing at 152 pounds, lost by five points.
“It was a narrow loss,” Johnson said; “The ref raised the wrong hand at the end of the match,” he added with a grin.
The Blue Eagle wrestlers will compete at Sumter at 6 p.m. Thursday as a tune-up for the Saturday Region 3-AAAA Tournament, which will start 9 a.m. at Fort Mill High School.