Columbia’s ever-improving wrestling program reached a significant milestone at last weekend’s Palmetto State Classic tournament at Irmo. The Capitals finished in 10th place with 82 points, marking the first time Columbia cracked the Top 10 at an elite regulart season tournament.
Mikael Nelson and Trey Leonard were the Capitals individual headliners. Nelson finished second at 112 pounds, while Leonard was the consolation champion at 171 pounds. Randy Medina was the other Columbia entry to place, finishing fourth at 119.
Nelson, a freshman, opened with an 11-1 win over Wando’s Jesse Lee, pinned Gilbert’s Chris Price in the quarterfinals and advanced to the finals by a pin against Sumter’s Peter Hackett. Nelson was pinned by Summerville’s Jordan Wigger in the title bout. Wigger was the Class 4A state champion at 103 last season.
Leonard placed for the second year in a row. A year ago, the senior team leader, who led the team with a 33-5 record and a fourth-place finish at 171 at the 2A-1A state tournament, lost in the consolation final at the PSC event. This time, Leonard prevailed in the consolation final, pinning Sumter’s T.J. Colvin at 4:58 for the third-place prize. Leonard, who went 4-1 at the tournament, bounced back from a semifinal loss to eventual champion T.J. Dudley of Irmo to score two wins in the consolation bracket. Dudley was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
Medina went 3-2 at 119. He was pinned in the semifinals by Chapin’s Stuart Hope, a defending 3A state champion who went on to win the 119 tournament title and lost in the consolation finale to Stratford’s Joseph Vazquez, who went 5-0 in the consolation bracket after suffering a first-round loss. Medina’s wins came against Gilbert’s D.J. Jumper. A.C. Flora’s D.T. Skinner and Wando’s Jason Huger. Medina pinned Huger in the consolation semifinals to assure himself of a place finish.
Nate Harper (2-2 at 140), DaVonne Montgomery (1-2 at 130), Tyrese Coaxum (1-2 at 189), Shelton Canzater (1-2 at 215) and Devante Graham (2-2 at 285) all contributed points to the final team score. Harper just missed a place finish, losing in the consolation semifinals.