Bernard Harmon would like to forget the first time he wrestled competitively. He was on the wrong end of a 16-1 decision.
Much has changed since then for Harmon, a two-sport star for the Timberland Wolves.
Harmon's loss in the lopsided decision came when he was a middle school wrestler in Norfolk, Va. He was born in Pineville, but moved out of state when he was a toddler. He moved back from Virginia four years ago and had a new nickname and eventually a new title: state champion.
"When I first moved back to the area, the first thing I did was try out for the football team," the senior said. "The coach didn't like my name. They started calling me 'VA' because I was from Virginia. I sort of liked the nickname and it stuck. I started using it myself."
VA has been A-OK as a wrestler for the Wolves. Last winter, he became the first student-athlete in school history to claim an individual gold medal at the state wrestling championships. Harmon finished last season with a 34-3 record. The championship in the 170-pound division gave him 97 career victories, which also was a school record.
"This season is going great as well," said Harmon, who was named first-team All-Lowcountry in football in December. "Winning the state championship was a great experience, and being the first one in school history made it even better. I know people will be coming at me. I just have to keep working with special emphasis on my moves."
Timberland wrestling coach Terry Keller says footwork is what makes Harmon special on the mat and on the gridiron.
"It's unbelievably hard to get him off his feet," Keller said. "That's what makes him good in football. He's been pinned only one time, and that was when he was a sophomore. He was pinned by a three-time state champion."
Harmon said wrestling helped him on the football field when he played defense. He was able to get low on opponents to make tackles.
Harmon was listed at 5-10 and weighed 175 pounds his senior season as a member of the football team. He left his mark on both sides of the ball for the Wolves, who were the Region 7-AA champs. He recorded 122 tackles, including 15 for a loss. He also had a big season on offense, rushing for a team-high 1,586 yards and scoring 28 touchdowns.
He's getting some interest from colleges as a football player and wrestler.
But academics will be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a college. He has a 4.0 GPA and is No. 9 in his senior class. He plans to be a mechanical engineer and is interested in attending Clemson, the University of South Carolina, The Citadel and Coastal Carolina.
In his spare time, he loves to read. If he's not on the football field or in the wrestling room, the best bet is that he's in the library.
"I just love to read," he said. "I've always loved to read. In the library, I can find something new to read or help out the librarian. They need it."
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