Blackman pulled off an impressive comeback Thursday night to win the Region 5-AAA duals over their crosstown rival the Siegel Stars. The win sends Blackman back to the TSSAA State Duals for the 7th time in school history and the 5th time in the last six years.
On a cool evening in Manchester, Tennessee, the top 2 teams in both district 9 and district 10 met in the gymnasium at Coffee County High to square up and see who would earn a trip to the TSSAA State Duals.
The semi-final matches pit the number one team from one district against the number two team from the other district. This meant that Tullahoma (1) wrestled Blackman (2) on one mat and Siegel (1) wrestled Shelbyville (2) on the other. The winners of those semi-final matches both qualify for state and wrestle each other for the chance to call themselves Region Champion.
The contest with Tullahoma was not overlooked and was obviously first priority on the list for Coach Bray and the Blackman wrestlers. Tullahoma has improved tremendously throughout this season and nearly beat Blackman three weeks ago in a tie dual that Blackman ended up winning on criteria.
After giving up a second period pin in the first match at 138, Blackman reeled off seven wins in a row to go up on the Wildcats 30-6. The seven match win streak included pins from Matthew Sells in 45 seconds and Vincent Cross (who was a monster by the way) in 27 seconds. Landon Folwer earned a very important decision over McElhaney and Andre Bravo wrestled extremely smart against Tullahoma star Dylan Pearson and earned an impressive 4-1 decision over him. Tullahoma flexed its muscle and won the next two at heavyweight and 106 to close the gap 30-18. At 113 though, Zack Dallas put the match out of reach for the Wildcats with his 46 second pin over Tullahoma’s Josh Fournier. Blackman forfeited out to save injury and energy and the final score was 42-30 Blackman.
While all this was going on with Tullahoma, Siegel’s coach Lee Ramsey was putting away Shelbyville 58-15. Siegel’s win set the stage for a rematch between Blackman and Siegel. The winner is crowned Region Champion. Siegel beat the Blaze just five days earlier 42-32 so everyone knew this was going to be another close one. No one knew just how close it would be……
The dual started at 145 with Landon Fowler taking on Siegel’s LaBelle. After building an 11 point lead, Fowler finally got LaBelle on his back and pinned him with 23 seconds left in the match. At 152, Blackman senior Tracer Spurlock squared off with Siegel’s Christian Salter. Tracer had a great first and second period and went into the third down only 5-1. After a very confusing (and some would say very questionable) series of stalling calls, Tracer was disqualified after time expired. Go figure. Blackman 6 – Siegel 6.
At 160, Cole Tillman lost a close match 8-6 giving Siegel their first lead of the night (6-9). At 170, Matthew Sells bumped up a weight to take on John Williams. Matthew worked an early takedown but Williams was pretty determined not to get turned. Sells managed to earn 2 near fall points in the second and 2 stalling calls on Williams ending the second period up 5-0. After a neutral start, Sells got two more takedowns and again worked to turn Williams who was again penalized (third time) for stalling. The match ended 10-1 earning Sells a major decision. Blackman leads 10-9.
No one knew beforehand but the real Vincent Cross showed up and showed out! Vincent stormed out of the gate at 182 and within 31 second, he took down Grey, turned him and got 2, turned him again and pinned him. Hunter Winters must have been inspired by Vincent’s performance because he had a near identical match, pinning Braden in just 32 seconds. Blackman up 22-9.
At 220, Blackman senior Andre Bravo took on Bargatze. Bravo gave up nearly 25 pounds in the match which pitted his speed with Bargatze’s brawn. In the end, it went to overtime and Bargatze got the takedown to win 5-3. Winning can be contagious and Siegel’s Patterson followed up with a 5-3 overtime victory of his own over Blackman’s Sam Luker. Score Blackman 22 – Siegel 15.
Siegel’s lightweights were as tough as ever and they reeled off four wins in a row at 106, 113, 120 & 126. The last time the teams met, Siegel got three pins from those four weight classes but this time they ended up with only one. That proved to be a key difference for the Blaze. Score after 126 – Blackman 22 – Siegel 31.
At 132, Jalen Brown squared up with Siegel’s Faris Abuzahra. Only 5 days before, Brown earned an 8-3 decision over him. This time Brown had other plans and after a very solid 2-0 first period, Jalen locked up the cradle and pinned Abuzahra in the second! Score Blackman 28 – Siegel 31.
Elijah Cox surely felt the weight of the world on his shoulders as he faced a must win final match with Siegel’s Sebastian Clark. Simply winning the match would not be enough. Elijah had to have a major decision or better to allow Blackman to secure enough points to win. Elijah came out of the gate on fire and got the first takedown and a 2 point nearfall. The first period ended 4-0. During the second and third periods, the match was stopped at least 4 or 5 times for blood. Elijah was a trooper and battled through the nosebleed and earned three takedowns in the third period to seal the major 14-5!
BLACKMAN WINS 32-31!!
As pandemonium ensued, Siegel’s coaching staff and wrestlers were very gracious in their defeat and many of the wrestlers who were fierce rivals only a few moments before came together and congratulated one another on one heck of a championship finals match. Many veteran coaches and fans in attendance speculated that this was perhaps one of the greatest championship finals they had ever seen! The standout for me was the true sportsmanship which followed. Hats off to Siegel and Coach Ramsey for the way their guys handled things.
At the end of the night, both Blackman and Siegel qualified their teams for spots in the TSSAA State duals which will be held next weekend in Franklin. Someone stated that this is the first time that both qualifying teams from our Region were from the same district. Congrats to Rutherford County!!! Photos HERE.
Blackman will be in action again next weekend, Feb 5-6 at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin. Make plans to come support the Blaze!