The Tigers competed at their second state qualifier on Saturday, Jan. 8, that featured more than 600 wrestlers from 35 different South Carolina teams.
Dylan Beheler, Octavious Thompson and Z’Jaonde Jones all took home first place honors at the tournament held at Byrnes High School.
Beheler and Thompson kept their undefeated streaks alive this season with their tournament wins.
“I expect these two guys to be my first state champions I have ever coached in middle school. They are really great kids on the mat and in the class room,” Sims coach George McDaniel said.
All Peachtree Conference teams competed in the state qualifier which gave the Tigers a look at who they would need to defeat to defend their conference title.
Sims had seven wrestlers to finish in the top three which McDaniel feels came from a great practice the day before the meet and also a pep talk given by a former Sims and Union High standout athlete.
Troy Epps – who played football at the Univeristy of Florida – stopped by Sims to speak with students the week leading up to the state qualifier.
“I really got on the team about how we wrestled on Thursday against Gable. Maybe that helped or having Troy Epps coming to talk to the kids really woke them up. I stress to my kids that they are part of something special and they are going to make the High School team great one day,” McDaniel added.
In addition to the three Tigers who won their respective weight divisions, Spencer Horne finished in second place for Sims.
“Spencer is a second year wrestler and has really grew to be a good wrestler,” McDaniel said.
Ty Thomas fought for another Tigers second-place finish.
“Ty is a seventh grader in his first year wrestling and is really athletic. He only lost to a kid who has wrestled all his life and is a National Champion. He only lost by points and that is great accomplishment versus a kid like that,” McDaniel added.
Chase Puckett and David Marin finished third.
“Chase is a second-year wrestler and is really doing well. David has been a blessing for us this season. (Marin) wrestles 105 and is a first-year wrestler and has learned fast,” McDaniel said.
Other Sims team members who did not place in the top three finished with more wins than losses as most of them earned three wins out of their four matches.
The Tigers’ success is preparing the future Yellow Jackets for a successful career and many travel wrestling clubs from around the state are taking notice of their talent.
“I know that five or six of our guys have been contacted to come try out for Team Palmetto an AAU. That is a great thing and I am hoping to get these guys involved in the AAU or NUWAY club programs this year. We are fortunate enough to have our mats at Sims now, and that may allow us to have an AAU program this year. This would really help our programs grow,” McDaniel said.
Sims will send seven wrestlers to the state tournament Saturday at Lexington High School. Below is a list of the Tigers heading to the state tournament: Ty Thomas (90); AJ Workman (95); Dylan Beheler (140); Spencer Horne (160); Z'Jaonde Jones (170); Chase Puckett (185); Octavious Thompson (HWT).
The Tigers faced conference foe Gable and Mabry during a tri-match at home on Thursday, Jan. 6 prior to the state qualifier. Sims defeated both Spartanburg County schools.
McDaniel is excited about the chance to defend the Tigers conference title.
“I am looking forward to it and I expect for us to at least place nine kids at the tournament but we could have more if we wrestle our best,” he said.
The Peachtree Conference championship matches were scheduled for last Friday but were postponed due to last week’s winter weather storm. A reschedule date has not been announced but be sure to watch the Times Web site for the latest information.