Blackman wrapped up the 2016 Region 5 Traditional Tournament with eleven wrestlers headed to the TSSAA State Tournament and a runner-up finish in the region championship!!
After winning the Region 5 Dual Championship two weeks ago, Blackman again set the sights high and hoped to claim the traditional region title as well. Sometimes you have to face adversity in order to achieve your goals and Blackman was certainly put to the test. Despite having TEN first round byes, Blackman battled from behind and scored enough points to claim second place in the region tournament – only 1.5 points behind Stewarts Creek. Before the tournament began, it wasn’t clear how badly the luck of the draw would affect the final results but being in a hole early is never good.
To give you an idea, Blackman had first-round byes at 10 weights while both Siegel and Stewarts Creek had only 5 each. So….10 Blaze wrestlers moved to the second round without a match. Out of those 10, 5 lost their first match and fell to the consolation bracket. Had we had only one of those five guys win a match in the first round, we would have enough points to win the region.
The silver lining? Count ‘em…. ELEVEN STATE QUALIFIERS!!! That’s the most of any team in the region!!
If you would have asked anyone other than Coach Bray (and Bobby McAtee) how many state qualifiers Blackman would have, it wouldn’t have been 11!! It’s a testament to how hard this team has worked and how much work the coaching staff has invested in them this season.
Blackman had four in the finals and ended the day with three region champs – Landon Fowler(145), Matthew Sells(160) and Andre Bravo(195). In the championship matches, Fowler pinned Haustin Parsons from Shelbyville at 1:29 in the first period to give him his first AAA region championship. Matthew Sells wasn’t going to be denied his third region championship and he made quick work of pinning Matthew Callahan from Siegel in 47 seconds. Andre Bravo pulled off another close victory against Tullahoma’s Dylan Pearson edging him 3-2.
At 182, Hunter Winters lost a hard fought match to #1 seed from Oakland, Garrett Richards. Winters was up 5-2 late in the third but Richards turned him in the final minute to earn the win.
Third Place went to Jalen Brown(132), Cole Tillman(152) and Vincent Cross(170). Brown lost a heart-breaker in the semi-finals to Smyrna’s senior Carl Templeton. Brown was leading 6-5 with 4 seconds left when Templeton scored a literal last second takedown to go ahead 7-6. It would be Brown’s only loss on the day. Tillman punched his ticket with a stunning 7-6 victory in the blood round over Creek’s #3 seed Levi Silvers. Cross fell to the consolations in the semi-finals and didn’t look back finishing up third with a decision over Cookeville’s Houser.
Fourth Place – Tre’von Thomas(120), Clayton Apland(126), Elijah Cox(138) and Sam Luker(220) all qualified for state with fourth place finishes. Thomas’ match with Jacob Haney from Lawrence County in the blood round was a stunner as Tre’von avenged two earlier losses in the season by winning 2-1. Clayton Apland defeated an extremely tough kid in Jarrett Talbott from Cookeville in the consolation-semis pinning him early in the second period. Elijah Cox also was able to turn the tables on an opponent by beating Owen Teague from Coffee County (who beat Elijah 5 weeks ago) in the blood round. After falling in the semis to top ranked Barber, Sam Luker won his blood round match against Dixon from LaVergne with a pin at 1:59 in the first.
(Just in case – – the BLOOD ROUND is the last match you have to win to medal. If you lose in the blood round, you will not medal.)
If there is going to be a moment when you show your true potential, the region tournament is a great place to start!! Many of our guys showed what they were truly made of.
Junior Matthew Sells was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for upper weights. Sells pinned all four of his opponents in a total of 3:17.
Freshman Landon Fowler was awarded the Region 5 Freshman of the Year award! The award was well-deserved as Landon has beaten many quality opponents this season including Region 6’s most outstanding wrestler Cole Iler.
Coach Bray was named Region 5 Coach of the Year. His hard work and commitment is not matched by anyone in the region. Blackman won the Region 5 Dual Championship, qualified the most wrestlers to state and continues to be a dominant state power.
Another interesting stat from the tournament. Blackman had the most pins in the least time – 25 pins in 41:18 compared to Siegel’s 24 pins in 51:36.
Congrats to all of our wrestlers, coaches and parents!! We hope to see all of you at the TSSAA State Tournament this coming weekend!! Three galleries of photos are now available HERE.