Columbia turned in an excellent performance at the Cardinal Holiday Classic wrestling tournament last weekend at Cardinal Newman.
Columbia, unranked in Class 2A preseason poll by scamat.com, should see its stock rise significantly with two strong tournament showings on the books in the early going. The Capitals finished 10th at the blue-chip Palmetto State Classic event in the first major outing of the season.
Joe Lovier’s ever-improving squad backed up its strong showing at the PSC tournament the week before with a third-place finish behind champion Cardinal Newman and Class 2A Midlands rival Gilbert. Three Columbia entries won weight class titles, and Trey Leonard and Mikal Nelson were named the two most outstanding wrestlers in the field.
“I am awfully proud of these guys and the commitment they are making to getting better,” said Lovier.
“We are a descent tournament team, but are still struggling as a dual team. We only entered eight guys and still came away with a third place finish. This is the first time we’ve ever had a Most Outstanding Wrester award, and it was really great having two be honored.”
Leonard had ffour pins on the road to the 171-pound championship and the MOW award for the upper weights. Nelson, a freshman, was 4-0 with three pins on the way to winning the 112 title and the MOW honor for the lower weights.
Sophomore Nate Harper was the other Columbia winner, going 4-0 at 140 pounds.
“I believe Nate has found his style this year and could make some noise the state tourney if he continues to work hard,” said Lovier.
Junior Davonne Montgomery, sophomore William Childs and sophomore Davonte Graham also placed for the Caps. Montgomery was 4-1 and took consolation honors at 130. Childs also had a 4-1 report card and a consolation title at 152. Graham’s 3-2 effort was good for fourth place at 285.
“That was a big win for Davonne, and should give giving him a lot of confidence,” said Lovier. “William wrestled the best he has this whole year and it paid off for him.”
Senior Tyreece Coaxum and breshman Freddy Strother went both 2-2, just missing out of reaching the medal rounds.
Lovier said the Caps could possibly have done better with Randy Medina in the lineup. Medina, a fourth-place finisher at 119 at the Carolina Classic, missed the tournament due to a death in the family.
“His presence were missed, but our thoughts were with him and his family,” said Lovier.