Iron Horses and Bishops wrestlers compete at state championships

Anthony Sardelli is one heck of a wrestling coach. He might even be a better recruiter.

Sardelli just completed his first year at the helm of the Philip Simmons High School wrestling program, and the only place he spent more time than the mat room was in the hallways of the school, pitching the sport and urging student athletes to compete.

“If you’re breathing, fairly athletic and not playing basketball, I’m going to recruit you,” Sardelli said of his recruiting approach. “We have maybe 550 students in school, and I asked about 300 to wrestle.”

Thirty-five athletes were members of the wrestling team to begin the 2020 season, and because of the demanding nature of the sport and attrition, 20 were on the final roster of the season.

Seven of the 20 reached the Class AA-A state individual tournament, which was contested this past weekend at the Anderson Civic Center: Dawson Wells (113 pound division), Nasir Ward, (132), A.J. McLanahan (138), Nate Newton (160), Jason Bartlett (170), Tyshawn Green (195) and Anthony Jackson (285). Jackson and Bartlett are the only seniors while Newton is the only junior. The other four are freshmen and sophomores.

Sardelli, who wrestled for Fort Dorchester in 2006, had coaching stints at Hanahan and Cane Bay, and was the head coach at West Ashley last winter. But it wasn’t the right fit, and Sardelli found a home with the Iron Horses.

The team finished second in Region 6-AA to Timberland and was the No. 6 seed in the Lower State Duals. The Iron Horses received a first-round bye but lost to Columbia in the second round.

The individual championships showed just how promising the program’s future is.

“I was surprised and very proud of what the team accomplished,” Sardelli said. “I know the work they put in. But the fact they got good in such a short time was surprising. They were like balls of clay. They had no bad habits and were easy to shape.”

The Iron Horses didn’t bring home any gold, silver or bronze medals, but that will change as the team gains more experience.

Philip Simmons should be even better next winter. Sardelli said three middle-schoolers will be on the team next season and all three have the potential to be all-state.

Bishop England, meanwhile had two wrestlers reach the Class AAA state individual championships: Edwin Carpenter (220) and Cole Preiditsch (285) qualified via the Lower State Championships and went on to finish in the top eight in Anderson.

They both faced top-seeded wrestlers at state, losing tough battles. Carpenter, the No. 6 seed, lost to Tyler James of West Oak by a fall. Meanwhile Preiditsch, the eighth seed, lost to the top heavyweight seed and eventual runner-up Conner Graham of Powdersville also by a fall. Carpenter and Preiditsch were training partners all season and the time on the mat paid dividends.

BE coach Paul Spence said, “Edwin and Cole were highly dedicated to the sport, in the weight room and they pushed each other all season long.”

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