Athlete of Week: Mitchell moves from field to mat

Grand Strand sports fans know about Daniel Mitchell the Myrtle Beach High football player. But if you haven’t seen Dennis Mitchell the wrestler in action, you’re missing out.

The 6-foot, 215-pound defensive lineman terrorized opposing offenses in the fall with his rare combination of size, speed, strength and smarts. The 195-pound wrestler is using those same assets to turn in an outstanding senior season on the mat, carrying a 20-2 record and a No. 5 state ranking into Wednesday night’s showdown at North Myrtle Beach for the Region 7-4A title.

“I’ve never been in this position in my time here, and it’s been a long time for the program too,” said Mitchell, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his successful wrestling season. “At the start of the year, we didn’t know how we were going to stack up, but having a chance to win the region and host the first round of the playoffs here would be amazing.”

Amazing is a fitting description of the job the Seahawks have done under first-year coach Brandon Feix, a championship wrestler himself who has hit the mat running at Myrtle Beach. In addition to getting more kids involved in the sport, he has also given veterans like Mitchell some much-needed stability and a good opportunity to go out on top.

“For the longest it’s been a revolving door of different guys, but I think that has helped me to get a different perspective from a lot of different coaches,” Mitchell said. “It has been hard to establish the program with so much turnover at the top, but I believe Coach Feix is in it to build something special here at MB, and I’m glad I get to be a part of it. The things we’ve been able to do this year, I don’t think anyone expected it. But if we keep getting after it in practice and being selfless teammates, the sky is the limit for this program.”

Mitchell has both team and individual goals for the season. For the No. 18-ranked Seahawks, he hopes to help the team claim a rare region title and the chance to host the first and second rounds en route to a strong showing in the state tournament. Mitchell also hopes to go the distance in the individual round – a crowning achievement for the two-sport star. Just don’t ask him to choose between football and wrestling.

“That’s a tough question because I love them both. I’m into whatever season it is – football in the fall and wrestling in the winter,” Mitchell hedged. “I’m probably a bigger football fanatic, but wrestling is different because it’s a team sport and an individual sport. We all help each other, but once you step out on the mat it’s just you, nobody to blame but yourself.”

Mitchell faces a tough team and individual hurdle against the rival Chiefs on Wednesday. Mitchell will square off with defending state semifinalist Curtis Wolfe in the 195-pound showdown, while the Seahawks faces one of the toughest top-weight lineups in the state. But no matter the outcome, you haven’t heard the last of Mitchell the wrestler, maybe even at the collegiate level.

“I haven’t made that decision yet and I’m not going to until after the season,” said Mitchell. “I am focused on the rest of the season and the state tournament and I don’t want anything getting in the way of that. But I definitely want to do play football or wrestle at the next level.”

Who knows? Maybe both.

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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