After postponing for a week due to severe weather, the TSSAA wrestling state meet begins on Wednesday and the Lakeway Area has a plethora of wrestlers participating.
The Canes Ethan Stroud is the lone representative for Morristown East as he enters the tournament in the 106 lbs bracket.
Stroud, the sophomore, enters the tournament after a successful season where he went 14-4.
It was a strange season for East as most tournaments and dual meets were knocked out due to COVID. Because of this, Stroud will enter the state tournament blindly, not knowing what competition he will go up against.
“Preparing for this year’s state tournament is a shot in the dark for us,” Morristown East coach Dale Johnson said. “Not really knowing the competition this year, we just have to do our best getting ready.”
Stroud qualified for the state meet after placing second in the 1-AAA region meet. Stroud made the finals in the region after pinning Dobyns Bennett’s Judah Moore in the semifinals. While Stroud was pinned in the region finals, his second-place finish qualified him for the state tournament.
This is Stroud’s second time qualifying for the state meet. Stroud will take on Houston’s Colby Batz in the first round.
“I know he’s hoping to make it to the medal rounds,” Johnson said. “With this being his second time qualifying for state, I hope he succeeds in his goal.”
The Trojans are bringing two wrestlers to Chattanooga as Zander Ward (170) and Sonny Watson (285) both qualified after as successful region tournament.
Ward is 14-6 on the season and came in second at the region tournament. Ward won by decision in the semifinals over Morristown East’s Julio Belmonte that qualified him for the state tournament.
Ward will go up against Beech’s Mason Smith in the first round of the state tournament.
Meanwhile, Watson enters the state meet after a perfect 17-0 season. Watson won the region meet after pinning Daniel Boone’s Adrien Tilson in the quarterfinals, Tennessee High’s Tyler Fields in the semifinals and then winning the region title with a 1-0 decision over Science Hill’s Keimel Redford.
Watson will take on Clinton’s Darian Woodruff in the first round of the state tournament.
Jefferson County enters the state tournament after an IMAC championship. The Patriots will be bringing eight wrestlers to the meet, including four region winners.
“This season has been filled with adversity, and we recognized early on that we weren’t the only team that would be affected,” Jeff County coach Dylan Willis said. “We had to look at the season on a week by week basis and worry about things we could control. We had some good dual wins early on and were able to break into the top 10 rankings for the state, which was hard to maintain throughout the season due to kids being out with Illness and other situations. A lot of our kids showed big jumps in their skill, ability and effort this season. We feel that will pay off this weekend.”
On the boys side, the Patriots will have six wrestlers at the state tournament. At 113, Roger Watkins enters the state meeting with a 13-5 record and a region champion. Watkins defeated Volunteer’s Evan Glass in the region championship with a 14-3 major decision. Watkins will take on Franklin’s Owen Gobel in the first round of state.
Caylek Vann enters at 120 and is 16-7 on the season. Vann came in second at the region tournament and will take on Cleveland’s Arlo Laxton in the first round of the state tournament.
Along with those two, Jeff County will bring along both Fisher’s in Landon and Logan.
Landon (145) came in fourth at last year’s state meet and enters this year’s tournament as the one seed after going 25-4. Landon won the region tournament after taking down Science Hill’s Braxton Mann 3-0. It was his third straight region title, and he will take on Coffee County’s Jacob Barlow in the first round of the state tourney.
Not to be outdone, Logan enters the state tournament with a record of 20-4 and came in second place in the region tournament. He will take on Independence’s Tanner Willett in the first round of state.
Finishing it off for the Patriots on the boys side, James Robinson (182) and Ryver Shelton (220) both enter the state tournament after winning the region. It was Shelton’s third straight region title. Shelton is a two-time state placer, 5th the in 2019 and 4th in 2020, and is the two seed at this year’s tournament. He will face Heritage’s Anthony Smith in the first round of the state tournament.
Robinson enters the state tournament after going 22-6 and taking down Cocke County’s Jacob King in the region finals. Robinson will face Karns’ Caleb Charlton in the first round of the tournament.
The Patriots will also have two girls at the state meet this season. LeAnn Worley (150) is no stranger to the state tournament, having finished in 4th in 2019 and 3 rd in 2020. Worley is seeded first this year and is 6-0 on the season. She will take on Rossview’s Gabby Wilkinson in the first round.
Ella Tallent is new to the state tournament and will be competing at 160. She is 4-3 this season and will take on Rossview’s Alyssa Adamo in the first round.
“The main goal for each of my wrestlers is to give maximum effort and have fun, enjoy it,” Willis said. “The winning and medals will take care of themselves if we go in prepared and give max effort at every point. With that being said I expect that we will be coming back to Dumplin Valley with a good amount of state hardware.”
Lakeway Christian Academy
First year of eligibility? No problem for Tony DeAngelo and his wrestlers of Lakeway Christian Academy.
It is the first year LCA’s wrestling is eligible to compete under TSSAA and they have accomplished a successful season by sending six of their wrestlers to the TSSAA Division II State Tournament.
There has been no true rhythm found due to the unusual season regarding COVID-19, according to DeAngelo. However, he likes the chances his wrestlers have heading into the state tournament.
“It’s been difficult to find any kind of true rhythm this year due to COVID,” DeAngelo said. “I like the way we are wrestling right now. I tell the kids that this state tournament is just another tournament. I don’t want to treat it differently than other tournaments because you will wrestle differently. We want to stay sharp and be ready to roll.”
It’s something special for both the wrestlers and the coach to accomplish such a feat by sending six wrestlers to the TSSAA State Tournament, which begins Thursday for LCA. The tournament will take place at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Here are the wrestlers LCA is sending to state wrestling in the Division II bracket:
Cole Gimlick - Weight Class 106
Gimlick is an eighth-grader wrestling at the high school level for LCA. He will be competing in the lightweight bracket of a weight of 106 lbs after finishing fourth in the region. Gimlick finished the season 12-4 while learning a lot on the fly. He will be matched up with Alex Ropski of Christian Brothers in the first round.
“I feel good about going to state as an eighth-grader,” Gimlick said. “I think my season has been pretty good. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but I feel good.”
Jay Eversole - Weight Class 113
Eversole is another eighth-grader and has had himself a solid year after going 15-4 and taking fourth in the region in his respective weight class. He will compete in the lightweight bracket with the 113 lbs weight class. Eversole’s first battle in Chattanooga will be against Joseph Jones of Father Ryan.
“I feel great about this,” Eversole said. “Overall, I think the season went pretty well.”
Keyveon Roller - Weight Class 120
Roller, the University of Virginia commit, finished the season a perfect 12-0 while being crowned the region champion in his respective weight class. Roller is sought out to be one of the top wrestlers entering the 120 lbs weight class bracket in the state tournament. The junior’s first match in the bracket will be against Brandon Poindexter of Briarcrest.
“I try not to overthink anything,” Roller said. “I don’t want to underestimate anyone. I want to go out there and treat every match like it’s the final match.”
Tim Charpenter - Weight Class 132
Charpenter is one of the two seniors heading to the state tournament for LCA. He finished the season with a 13-3 record and finished fourth in the region in his respective weight class. Charpenter will compete in the 132 lbs weight class bracket in Chattanooga with his first match being against Dayne Dalrymple of Christian Brothers.
“I’m pretty sure I know most of the kids I will be going up against in my bracket so it makes me feel pretty good,” Charpenter said.
Brayden Ivy - Weight Class 138
Another one of the top wrestlers heading into the state tournament is Ivy, the junior. He finished the regular season without a single loss, going 23-0. Ivy was crowned the region champion in his respective weight class of 138 lbs. His first match in the 138 lbs weight class of the bracket will be against Easton Thomas of Goodpasture.
“I’m pretty confident going in,” Ivy said. “I have had great coaches and teammates help me through the season to help me prepare for this moment.”
Luke Estes - Weight Class 195
The other senior heading to the state tournament for LCA is Estes who is competing in the heavyweight part of the bracket. Estes finished third in the region and went 15-4 through the season. He will compete in the 195 lbs weight class in the state tournament. The first matchup Estes will see in Chattanooga will be Joshua Taube of St. George’s.
“I’m practicing and taking it one day at a time leading up to this moment,” Estes said.
The Cocke County wrestling program is sending three of their wrestlers to the TSSAA Class AAA State Tournament this week after a successful regional tournament.
It is the 14th consecutive year the Cocke County wrestling program is sending at least one wrestler to the state tournament. And although this year has been bumpy for coach Randy West and his wrestler, they found a way to end the season on a high note.
“This year has had many difficulties with COVID-19,” West said. “We got to end the season on a high note, though. I believe this is a great accomplishment any year you send wrestlers to the state tournament. The best way to view this year is how we ended it with three of our wrestlers finishing second in the region tournament and qualifying for the state tournament.”
The wrestlers heading to state for Cocke County in Dylan Winchell, Hunter McKenna and Jacob King all placed second in the region tournament to qualify for a match in Chattanooga.
Dylan Winchell - Weight Class 126
Winchell is a junior in the program that is a transfer from the state of New York. He finished the season with an overall record of 34-4. Winchell’s path to the state tournament was a bit difficult due to him losing a semifinals match, then wrestling in the consolation match until finally getting the rematch for second place in which he won. Winchell’s first match in the 126 lbs weight class bracket is against Trey Bates of Beech High School.
Hunter McKenna - Weight Class 152
McKenna is another transfer from the state of New York in the Cocke County wrestling program. He finished the season 16-2 after a late start with the program. McKenna is rapidly approaching 200 career wins as he heads into the state tournament. The senior will be fighting in the 152 lbs weight class bracket, with his first match being against Alex Ables of Centennial.
Jacob King - Weight Class 220
King might be known as a star in the baseball program at Cocke County but has proven to be a star in the wrestling program, too, after finishing his season 30-6 in his respective weight class. The Cocke County native has wrestled since his middle school days and has found his way to the state tournament to represent his hometown. The senior is wrestling in the 220 lbs weight class bracket where he will match up with Connor Callahan of Sevier County in the first round.