Blackman continued to show improvement this season with a respectable 7th place finish at the always competitive Bradley Invitational. The two day tournament is held every year at Bradley Central’s Jim Smiddy Arena in Cleveland, TN. Because of the many out of state teams that attend, many consider the Bradley tournament to be tougher than Tennessee’s traditional state tournament.
The field this year was made up of 24 teams from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Georgia certainly brought the horses as they ended up with three of the top five teams. However, Bradley dominated their home event and ended the tournament with 5 individual champions and 7 other medalists.
Blackman’s senior team captain, Matthew Sells defeated Knoxville Halls Senior Colton McMahan in the 170 pound championship finals by a score of 3-1. Sells came out firing on offense and nearly had a takedown in the first few seconds but was ruled out of bounds. McMahan responded immediately and got in on a single leg but Sells was able to defend. The only takedown of the match happened in the 2nd period with Sells getting in on a head outside single. McMahan is an incredibly tough competitor and his match with Sells was voted Best Match of the tournament. This would be Sells’ 2nd Bradley Championship.
Blaze Junior Daniel Bradford had an impressive tournament and posted a 3rd place finish after PINNING Spencer Davis from Alabama in the 3rd place match. In the first round, Bradford avenged a loss from earlier in the season by earning a major decision on Hixon’s Jonas Shackleford. Shackleford pinned Bradford earlier this season at the Blackhorse. Bradford went on to PIN GA State Champ and #2 seed Kole Burchett from Commerce. In the semi-final match, Bradford narrowly missed an opportunity to wrestle in the finals by losing a heart breaker to Knoxville Halls’ Toliver Justice. Bradford seemed to have the match locked up but a flurry in the final seconds by Justice stripped Bradford of the win 3-2.
Sophomore Landon Fowler finished 4th and certainly was disappointed with that result. No one can argue that Fowler had his hands full with two time GA state champion Owen Brown from Commerce. Brown is inarguably one of the Top 10 Pound for Pound wrestlers in the state of Georgia. In the semi-final match with Brown, Fowler made some headway but ended up losing a major decision 12-3. He bounced back by defeating GA state medalist McEachern (5th GA 6A-170) from Mountain View to earn a trip to the consolation finals. In the final match, Fowler and North Gwinnett’s Spencer Lewis (3rd GA 6A–160) went back and forth in a real meat grinder. Lewis scored the only point to hand Fowler a 1-0 defeat.
Junior Jamil Hughes had a great start earning pins in his first three matches! Jamil’s athleticism had much to do with his success but his mental toughness is what mattered the most. At heavyweight, one tiny mistake will cost you the match and Jamil didn’t let the atmosphere bother him. Making it to the semi-finals at Bradley is an accomplishment. Jamil faced Commerce’s 5th place medalist Ridley and was pinned in the final minute of the 2nd period. He battled back to 5th place with a pin over Mt Juliet’s Bryan Horner
The rest of the team wrestled well but all were reminded of just how competitive the next level can be. Freshman Brooks Sacharczyk continued to impress as well as Sophomore Jalen Brown. Both of these guys will produce state medals. Evan Smart, Ryan Heath and Spencer Layne are on the up and up and those three are expected to compete well as we head towards regions and state duals.
All in all a great finish and certainly a step up from last season’s 13th place finish. Top five were Bradley (281.5), Commerce GA (205), Gilmer GA (181.5), Mountain View GA (172.5) and Knoxville Halls (132). Blackman was within striking distance of the top 5 coming in 7th with 120 points.
With the region in mind, Blackman outperformed other Region 5 teams by a wide margin as the next closest area team was Stewarts Creek with only 65.5 points.
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Pictures from the Bradley Invitational can be found on our PHOTOS page.
Blackman is off for the holidays and returns to action on January 5th with a home match at Blackman High School against Beech and cross town rival Oakland. Please come out and support the Blaze!