Winter champions are made in the spring and summer. When you or your wrestler accept that reality, you will automatically be one step closer to the top of the podium. Like many top echelon programs in the state, Blackman has begun off-season workouts and competition, and one thing is certain. The Blaze will get better this summer!
Blackman’s coaching staff is providing a variety of opportunities for our athletes to improve. To begin with, Blackman is hosting Fight Nights every Tuesday night at the wrestling building. Fight Night consists of live 5 minute matches and is open to any high school wrestlers who can show up. Wrestlers get 8 to 10 live matches with guys of similar size with the focus on technique and stamina. Recently there have been up to 80 wrestlers in the room with several state medalists and a few champions in attendance. We have been seeing kids from Blackman, Smyrna, Stewarts Creek, Oakland, Riverdale, Wilson Central, Coffee County, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Independence, Tullahoma, and several others.
Wednesday and Thursday, Blackman has Freestyle and Greco Roman practice. Spring is for Olympic style wrestling and Coach Eric is making sure that our guys are getting the necessary training to compete with the state’s best.
Last month, Blackman took a group of guys to Chicago, IL for the first Freestyle/Greco action of the season. The guys traveled to Crystal Lake High School and got a good workout and Greco Roman technique session from Coach Pace. Once everyone got warmed up, we moved down to North High School in Downers Grove for the Greco Roman competition. Because it was the first event of the off-season for them, there were no brackets and it was basically an open with officials. Our guys got some great matches in and learned a ton. The next day, the freestyle competition began and because of some larger numbers, the tournament was a little more organized by weight and experience. The trip was a total success and everyone got to wrestle, eat Chicago style Italian beef at Portillos and dig in on some great Chicago pizza from Aurelios. Pics from the event can be found HERE.
Blackman also took a group of local guys up to the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) High School Nationals in Virginia Beach. This is one of the most prestigious folkstyle tournaments in the country and doing well there can have huge positives on scholarship opportunities. The event is scouted by many of the top college wrestling programs in the country so doing well there can open a few eyes. For many wrestlers, this is the biggest event that they will ever take part in. With over 3500 wrestlers, just participating will help young wrestlers be more at ease in smaller local tournament back home. Once you’ve been on a really big stage in wrestling, it’s easier to be comfortable back at home when the pressure is on.
Blackman took six guys to the VA Beach tournament and everyone did very well and learned a ton. Day one was especially good to Freshman Landon Fowler who went 3-0 and Junior Matthew Sells (4-0). Being undefeated on day one pays off with a trip to the quarter-finals. Having one in the quarters at VA Beach is a huge deal for a school from Tennessee but TWO? That’s almost unprecedented! Day 2 wasn’t so kind. Our guys quickly found out that the best in PA, OH, FL, or NJ are tough to beat and both Fowler and Sells ended up losing close matches in the blood round….one match away from All-American status.
Just being there counts and all of our guys competed well and with ferocity. All in all, Tennessee sent 72 high school guys and 10 middle school guys. For the high school group, Tennessee had 10 medalists with the best Tennessee finish by TJ Hicks from Bradley Central (2nd). Bracket size at the tournament varied anywhere from 123 kids in the 9th grade 106 class down to 12 kids in the 9th grade 285 class. One interesting data point for Tennessee was this. The 10 medalists from TN had an average bracket size of 58 kids. Everyone else who had a winning record but did not medal? Their average bracket had 84 kids. It is sad to say but Tennessee saw several state champs return home from this tournament empty handed. That’s a clear sign that we have to keep growing wrestling in Tennessee. Overall, the high school kids from Tennessee went 164-162….pretty even. Juniors had the best luck going 39-32 overall. Seniors fared the worst going 28-35.
What to do to improve? Keep grinding! Pics from VA Beach HERE. Tennessee’s wrestlers with winning records at VA Beach below.
|11||120||Gavin Hutchens||6||2||7th Place|
|12||138||Michael Murphy||6||2||7th Place|
|9||106||Brayden Palmer||5||3||8th Place|
|9||145||Mason Reiniche||5||2||5th Place|
|11||113||Thomas Hicks||5||1||2nd Place|
|11||285||Sammy Evans||5||1||3rd Place|
|12||120||Trey Chalifoux||5||2||5th Place|
|10||220||Javier Salvador||4||2||7th Place|
|12||132||Matthew Kieta||4||3||8th Place|
|10||285||Jacob Coppenger||3||3||6th Place|