High School Sports

Leonard makes history at 2A state tournament

Trey Leonard made history at the Class 2A-1A state wrestling tournament last weekend in Rock Hill by becoming the first Columbia Capital to reach the top spot of the winner’s stand.

Leonard capped 42-3 senior season and a 119-15 career by defeating Austin McConnell of Palmetto 12-3 in the 171-pound championship match. Talk about sweet revenge, Leonard turned the table on McConnell after losing to him in the Upper State championship match the week before the state finals.

“The best thing that happened Trey was losing the week before (to McConnell),” said Columbia coach Joe Lovier. “That really focused him and made him work hard in the week leading up to state. He was untouchable at this tournament.”

It was no contest in the rematch. Leonard opened the first period with a quick takedown and added back points for a 5-0 lead. He never looked back.

“Trey out-worked everyone in our wrestling room and his practice habits were good for the younger guys to see,” said Lovier. “They saw how good and talented he was, but they also saw him doing things that were extra.”

Leonard’s senior season also featured a MOW award earned at the Cardinal Newman tournament and runner-up honors at two other Midlands tournaments – The Carolina Classic at Irmo and the Blue Devil Invitational at Dreher. Both times, Leonard was felled in the finals by Irmo’s T.J. Dudley, who won the Class 4A state championship.

But nothing else can compare to the thrill of becoming the first state champion is school history. Leonard was a fourth-place finisher at 171 in 2009.

Freshman Mikel Nelson, sophomore Randy Medina and sophomore Nate Harper also made the state cut.

Medina was the only other Caps entry to pick up a state win, Medina finished 1-2 at 119ng Cheraw’s Rashad Hancock in a first-round consolation match. He finished with a 36-14 in his first wrestling season.

Nelson went 0-2 in his state debut and finished with a impressive rookie season record of 44-6, and bagged a MOW award at the Cardinal Newman tournament.

Harper went 0-2 at 140, losing 6-5 to eventual state champion Trevor Jones in the first round, whose score with eight seconds left proved decisive and bitterly disappointing to Lovier and Harper.

“I was proud to walk in (to the tournament) with these four guys,” said Lover.