By Frank Smithwick

Sports Writer

Eighteen schools participated in the two-day Al Kessie Mecklenburg County Wrestling Tournament held at Olympic High School this past weekend. 
The tournament is named after a former coach and athletic director in CMS who started the tournament many years ago. 
From Mint Hill, Independence, Rocky River, and first time participant Queens Grant wrestled. 
Queens Grant came away with one place winner, Connor Day, who took fourth place at 145 lbs. Rocky River had one place winner as well, Seth Johnson, who came in fourth place in the 195 lbs. weight class.
The Independence wrestling team came in third in team points without a full lineup.
Independence entered the tournament with a chance to be in contention for a top two finish. This goal was hindered when Indy began the tournament without three of its regular starters: Robert Merli (126 lbs.), Devin Taylor (138  lbs.) and Charlie Kurtz (220  lbs.). These three wrestlers have combined for 34 wins this year for the Patriots. Missing these wrestlers meant that other Indy wrestlers had to do well over the two-day tournament to make up points lost by not entering a full team. At the end of the second day, Indy had four wrestlers place in the top four. Tashon Risher came in fourth place at 170 lbs. and  Josh Matos came in second place at 182 lbs. Indy did crown two champions: Junior Brian Tiderman(195 lbs.) and senior Demetree Hardison (285 lbs.). This was the third county championship for Tiderman and the second for Hardison. 
Independence had five wrestlers advance to the semifinal round, but two were knocked down to the consolation round. It was here where Indy lost points when those wrestlers lost their second match of the day thus not allowing them to score anymore team points. 
“I was happy with the way the boys did,” said coach Ben Barry of his teams performance.
State Championship on the brain
Senior Demetree Hardison is only in his second year of wrestling, but he has his sights set on a state championship. This is according to Coach Barry who describes Hardison as “a smart wrestler who picks his moments and is a student of the sport.” Hardison is also helped by having a great practice partner in  Tiderman. Tiderman is looking to Hardison to make him better due to limited chances to compete as teams have been forfeiting to him because he is such a dominant wrestler. Tiderman has five wins by forfeit this year. ╩ Hardison is a perfect 18-0 and Tiderman is 16-1.╩
Coming up
Indy will face Mooresville on Friday in Mooresville at 6 pm.
JV Wrestling
JV Patriot wrestlers take first place at North Iredell tournament.
Indy JV wrestlers were able to come away with a first place finish at the North Iredell JV tournament over the weekend. Here are the results:
113: Justin Rackley 2nd Place; Da’cori Tillman 3rd;  Yovany Romero 4th.
132: Raymond Polk 1st 5-0.
138: Tim Marshall 3rd;
145: Tyler Samuels-Smith 1st Place; Teo Risher 2nd;Kolton Manchester 4th.
152: Chris Mangum 3rd Place.
160: Rashawn Trail 2nd Place; Justin Love 3rd Place.
170: Cameron Beaudoin 3rd Place.
182/195:╩ Stuart Cochran 2nd Place.
285: Paulus Bonar 3rd Place.