Led by a championship effort from Blaze senior Brooks Sacharczyk, the boys Wrestling team took Third Place at the 2020 TSSAA Traditional State Tournament at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center in Franklin.
It is the highest finish at the state tournament for any Rutherford County team…ever. Blackman scored 156 points in the third-place effort behind #1 Cleveland (247 points) and #2 Wilson Central (188).
The Blaze qualified twelve wrestlers (9 boys and 3 girls) to the tournament. Both the boys and girls both had historic firsts for Blackman.
On the boys’ side, there were a record SIX STATE MEDALISTS! Previously the record was four (set in 2014 and matched again in 2019). Having six medalists is an amazing accomplishment and another first for Blackman and a first for Rutherford County!! Want another amazing stat? Blackman had two state finalists for the second year in a row!
On Saturday night, Sacharczyk brought home Blackman’s eighth state championship with a big win in the 182 pound finals over Hayden Maynor from Soddy Daisy. Brooks set the tone early and by the end of the first period, it was clear who was in control of the match. Sacharczyk defeated Maynor 5-1 by decision to the delight of the Blackman fans.
Sophomore phenom Justin Bradford was the second finalist of the night. Bradford completely dominated his first four opponents pinning his way to the finals. In his first four matches at state, Bradford wrestled less than six minutes to secure his wins. For example, in the semi-final match, Bradford needed just 36 seconds to secure two takedowns and a pin over Bartlett’s Kolin Koss.
Bradford’s championship match was with Wilson Central’s Hunter Borders. Borders was undefeated and won their first meeting earlier in the season. As the match began, Bradford came out firing and scored the first two takedowns. He ended the period up 4-2. In the second, Bradford scored two near-fall points and gave an escape late, ending that period up 6-3. In the third, Borders, pushed the pace with a frantic effort to score. Bradford was hit for stalling a couple of times and it was obvious that his energy was waning. Leading 10-8 with only 23 seconds remaining, Borders made one final takedown attempt. Bradford’s counter was not successful and he ended up on his back. Borders secured the pin with just thirteen seconds remaining. What a heartbreaker!!!
Blackman had stellar performances out of the other medalists as well! Senior Bowdy Boyce and senior Anthony Gomez BOTH earned 3rd place medals! Boyce opened the tournament with two convincing wins over Karns and Ravenwood but lost the quarterfinal match to Houston after making an unfortunate mistake. A lot of young men might not have the mental fortitude to get back on the horse right away but Boyce showed what kind of competitor he is by regaining his composure and winning four in a row, taking third place over #2 ranked Ryver Shelton from Jefferson County.
Bowdy had an incredible season finishing the year with a record of 55-5. He has committed to Newberry College in South Carolina where he is going to make their coaching staff very, very happy.
Anthony Gomez’s story is actually mind-blowing. Gomez may actually be the most under-rated wrestler in Blackman history. If he wasn’t under-rated, he was certainly under a lot of people’s radar. No one is sleeping on him now…that’s a guarantee. Gomez has an unconventional style that gives his opponents nightmares. His long and flexible frame gives him advantages in scrambles and in the top position.
He won his first match handily and without much fanfare. In the second match, he got taken down early and had to fight from behind. It was 4-4 at the end of regulation and the match went into overtime. After a shot from Rossview, Gomez somehow managed to avoid being taken down and rolled across his back coming out on top for a pin! The next match against Brezna from Cleveland came down to the wire as well. Down 4-2 with 13 seconds left, Gomez took Brezna to his back for a take down and two near-fall for the win! In the semi-finals and Gomez faced the #1 seed Pietarila. True to form, it came down to the wire and this time Gomez wasn’t on the right side of fate. He lost the match 10-9…one point from going to the finals!!!
In the consolations, he pinned Jeffers from Bradley in less than a minute and set up another match for third with Cleveland’s Brezna. Once again the match went to the wire. With 23 seconds left, Gomez trailed 5-3. He scored the tying takedown with just 2 seconds left! In overtime, Brezna got in on a deep shot but Gomez countered and used that long body to put Brezna to his back. His second Pin in Overtime!! It may be a coach’s nightmare, but Gomez gets the award for most entertaining of the state tournament.
Blackman’s final two state medalists are freshmen.
Yes, two freshmen. That is rare! In AAA, there are 84 wrestlers who get state medals. This year only six of those medalists were freshmen. Two of those freshmen were Blackman’s Mason Sells and Grant Myers.
Myers’s run to the podium certainly took an unconventional path. In his first match Grant found himself tied 2-2 with Reed from Germantown. In the third period, as time expired, Grant gave up an escape with only one second remaining on the clock losing 3-2. Losing that first match at state is quite a blow and the road to the podium is super long from that starting point. However, Grant bounced back, received a lucky bye, and then won FOUR IN A ROW to get himself on the podium. Myers had wins over Palmer from Beech, a really tough kid from Antioch, Mackie from Warren County (who beat Grant earlier this season) and Lozdoski from Clarksville. It’s a guarantee that there aren’t many kids who lost their first match at state and came back and placed. (Five according to Coach Bray)
After the blood round, Myers was beaten in the consolation-semi finals by Shultz from Munford who placed third, and then he lost the 5th place match to a kid that he has beaten earlier in the year. Grant finished the season with a record of 50-13 and his spot on the podium earned him valuable seeding criteria for the rest of his high school career.
The other freshman state medalist was Mason Sells. Mason was ranked 6th prior to state and living up to those expectations as a freshman is tough task. Sells got a pretty good draw for the first match but his second match would be much tougher as he would need to get past a very tough, 4th ranked, Avery Warnock from Wilson Central. The match started off with Mason giving up the first takedown and then immediately reversing with a merkle and near-fall. (for some reason, some crazy-guy was yelling something about ‘defensive pin’….. but it wasn’t even close…..)
Anyway, Sells was able to put together several scores and came away with a major decision. Sells went on to win the next match and set himself up a semi-final match with #1 Trae McDaniel from Cleveland. McDaniel is probably the best pound for pound wrestler in the state. Mason had a good first period with him but the good times didn’t last long. He lost the match by tech-fall, fell to the consolation bracket, and won his next bout to get into the 3rd place match. There Sells faced #2 ranked Sammy Shires from Rossview and he lost a tough decision ending up in 4th place. He finished the season with a stellar record of 55-9. Lots of good things coming in the next three years.
Three Blaze wrestlers came up short in their bids to medal. Junior Alex Rose was no doubt in the toughest bracket of the tournament. In the 120 pound bracket there were SEVEN returning state medalists. Alex won his first two matches but lost the quarter-final match to #1 seed Jackson Bradford from Cleveland. The next match with Woerner from Rossview was a heart-breaker. It was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and in overtime, Woerner won a tough scramble and got the takedown. (Woerner lost his next match in the blood-round….in overtime)
Freshman Justin Brown has been such a bright spot this season. Brown caught a tough draw and had to face Wilson Centrals Cole Fort in his second match. Fort was a two time state medalist at the time and was just too much for Brown to handle. (Fort would end up the runner-up). Justin went on to win two matches in the consolations and lost a tough one one match away from the blood round to a very tough Houston kid.
And finally, Senior Jaylan Hughes. Hughes has had a great year and he ended up with a pretty difficult draw. Sometimes first matches are a little off for some wrestlers and in his first match, Jaylan had a close battle. Tied at 3-3, Jaylan was called for locked hands and penalized a point as time expired. It was a tough call for sure. Hughes found himself in the undesirable spot of the first round of consolations. He strung together FOUR wins but lost in the blood round by decision. ONE MATCH AWAY. It was a great effort and he showed stellar character battling back like he did.
As previously mentioned, the Blackman GIRLS made some history of their own. Morgan Sacharczyk and Nena Brown became Blackman’s FIRST TWO FEMALE STATE MEDALISTS!
At 125 pounds, Morgan’s first match was against East Region champ Hayes from Gibbs. Morgan got the first two takedowns and looked in pretty good shape but she made a mistake while looking to score a reversal and ended up getting pinned. Like any other bracket, losing the first match is Trouble with a capital T. In the next two matches, Sacharczyk got a pin over West Greene in the blood round and then a very tough 5-4 decision against Stadler from David Crockett in the consi-semis. So the third place match was a rematch with Sacharczyk and Hayes from Gibbs. Morgan started off strong with the first takedown and two sets of near-fall to build an 8-0 lead in the first period. The second period was all Hayes as she turned Morgan twice to close the gap to 8-5. The final period started neutral and Sacharczyk battled tough on her feet scoring the final takedown and PIN with only 35 seconds remaining. 3rd place for Morgan!
Sophomore Nena Brown started off with a nice PIN over #1 seed and senior Olivia Gasteiger from Science Hill. For most of the first period, Brown did some serious hand-fighting and stayed in good position. Towards the end of the period, Nena secured a front head-lock and hit an outside trip, sending Gasteiger to her back for the PIN. Brown lost a tough match to Champion from Tullahoma in the semi-finals but rebounded with a pin over Thibeault from Farragut to make it to the 3rd place match. In that final bout, Spink from Northweat came out with some aggressive shots and turned Nena for a two-point near-fall. Brown was able to get the reversal and ended the first period down 4-2. In the second period, Brown pushed the pace on her feet and Spink was called for stalling. In her attempt to get the takedown, Brown ended up on her back. 2nd period ended down 11-3. In the final period, Brown got a takedown to close the gap but ended up getting reversed while she attempted to turn Spink and was pinned. Brown ended up in 4th place in a very tough bracket.
Allyson Colson had a tough bracket of her own to deal with. In her 2st match, she drew last year’s state runner-up Elizabeth Raper from Cookeville. Raper scored the first takedown and Allyson fought off a turn late in the period. In the second, Colson chose down and ended up in a cradle and was pinned. In the second match with Fisher from Alcoa, Allyson found herself down 2-0 after the first period. In the second, she scored a takedown and two sets of near-fall to take a 8-2 lead. In the third, Colson was up 10-9 with less than 30 seconds remaining. She gave up a reversal in the final scramble and lost 12-10 amid some late-match controversy. Although she missed the podium Allyson had a great season and competed well in a tough weight class. She showed her potential for next season and will definitely be a force.
It’s always difficult at the end of wrestling season. This has truly been a special team. This group of wrestlers have made a ton of history and have made memories that will last a lifetime.
What’s next for Blackman? The Blaze have several wrestlers who will compete at Virginia Beach in this year’s NHSCA Nationals. AND Blackman Freestyle and Greco is starting up next week! There is a ton of work to do this off-season if wrestlers want to make history of their own next season.
A gazillion pictures have been uploaded to our PHOTO PAGE. Special thanks to Mrs. Baumann for the awesome gallery she took on Saturday!! Make sure you click that link and check those out.