Category Archives: wrestling

Riverdale’s Boykin sweeps pair of wrestling titles at Fargo

Nick Boykin arrived in Fargo, N.D., as a Tennessee high school wrestling state champion.

He’ll leave as a potential Olympian.

The 285-pound Riverdale rising junior, who became the first Volunteer State athlete to win a Cadet Greco-Roman national championship Monday with a 16-6 technical-fall victory over California’s Gavin Nye, added a freestyle crown Friday with a 10-0 tech-fall decision over Zach Muller of Illinois.

He is the only Tennessee wrestler to win both Greco-Roman and freestyle championships at Fargo.

“We’ve had some great wrestlers,” said Jeramie Welder, one of three Team Tennessee coaches at the tournament. “Tennessee has some of the best wrestlers in the country. We’re just having a hard time building the Olympic styles. That’s the big thing. Everything (in Tennessee) is focused on folkstyle at a young age. We’re playing catch-up with a lot of these states.

“Nick’s style, the way he wrestles, his positioning is great. He’s a really good Greco wrestler, even though he’s new at it. He made a name for himself and represented Tennessee incredibly well.”

In a performance very similar to his run through the Greco-Roman bracket, Boykin won all of his matches by either technical fall or pin in freestyle competition with the exception of a 10-4 decision.

“I didn’t expect to just go out and demolish everybody,” said Boykin, who was making his first appearance at Fargo. “I knew it would be good competition. I wanted to do my best. It was really fun.”

Boykin’s tournament performance caught the attention of collegiate and national coaches – including Matt Lindland, who has worked with a number of wrestlers at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.

“Matt called me after (Friday’s championship match) and told me he’s got to work with him,” Welder said. “He was ready to get him out to Colorado tomorrow. He said he can be an Olympic champion if he wants to be. I agree with him. He’s that good, that talented.

“What he did is a really big thing for Tennessee. A lot of people may not realize it, but it is amazing what he’s done. He had one match that went the whole distance and he was still in complete control of it. I wouldn’t have expected him to walk over these guys like he did. He’s really god a lot of people talking. The buzz is out there.”

The 16-year-old is still trying to figure how to balance his new wrestling future with his high school athletic career – he’s a two-way lineman for Riverdale, which begins full-pad practice Monday.

“I’m going to play football, but my main priority is wrestling, after this tournament,” he said.

Along with Boykin, Father Ryan’s Eli King earned Cadet freestyle all-American status with his fifth-place finish at 138 pounds Friday. Ryan’s Trey Chalifoux will be a Junior freestyle all-American as well and will wrestle for seventh place in Saturday’s medal round.

Riverdale’s Boykin wins national wrestling title at Fargo

With a 16-6 technical-fall victory, Riverdale rising junior 285-pounder Nick Boykin became Tennessee’s first Cadet National Greco-Roman champion Monday, defeating Gavin Nye of California to cap his tournament run in Fargo, N.D.

“I just wanted to have fun while I was wrestling,” Boykin said. “I was just going after it.”

The younger brother of former Riverdale state champion Scottie Boykin, who qualified for the NCAA national tournament this past year as a sophomore at Tennessee-Chattanooga, Nick won Fargo in his first tourney appearance.

“It can be an intimidating tournament because it’s so well known,” said Jeramie Welder, one of three Team Tennessee coaches. “You’re never sure how guys are going to react. But Nick does a great job of keeping his composure and he wrestles everyone the same way. He has that internal confidence that he believes he can do it, and it shows.

“It was fun just getting to watch him compete and do what he does. He did a great job throughout the tournament. He wrestled five matches and he just dominated everybody, either pinned or teched everybody.”

Nick, who competed in the Cadet Duals last summer and went 13-1, said working out with Scottie this summer at UT-C helped.

“Getting to train with my brother was really fun,” he said. “I stayed down there, practiced with their heavyweight and Sammy Evans (Alcoa’s Class A/AA state titlist).”

Nick won the Class AAA 285-pound title in February with a second-period pin of Cleveland’s Koran Kennedy after finishing third as a freshman.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure coming back this next couple of years at Riverdale,” he said. “They’ll be coming after me.”

Before worrying about his junior season, though, the younger Boykin’s focus will be on the Freestyle competition in Fargo that begins Wednesday. Tennessee hasn’t had a Cadet national champion in that format since Nick Marable in 2003, and has never had a double champion.

“It’s very exciting,” Welder said. “He’s going to see these guys again and he knows there’s no one he can’t go with. He’ll be making that transition, making the little adjustments. I’m excited for him to come back and go after another title.”

Centennial wrestling tournament scheduled for Saturday

Centennial High School will host the Cougar Challenge wrestling tournament Saturday, with at least 14 Middle Tennessee teams expected to be represented.

“We are trying to start what we hope will be an annual event that we can hold every summer, and then hopefully add another one during the season,” third-year Centennial coach Philip Pelkey said. “It seems as if most (summer) wrestling opportunities in the state are either in Chattanooga or in East Tennessee, so we wanted to do something that everyone in Middle Tennessee and beyond could come take part in.”

In addition to the host team, participants are expected from Battle Ground Academy, Beech, Brentwood Academy, Clarksville, Coffee County, Goodpasture, Harpeth, Independence, Lebanon, Page, Ravenwood, Shelbyville and Sycamore.

Weigh-ins are set for 8 a.m. with wrestling to begin at 9:30 in the following weight classes: 105, 115, 125, 135, 145, 155, 165, 175, 190, 210, 240 and 285. Classes may be combined at the discretion of the tournament officials. For more information or to register, e-mail Pelkey at philipp@wcs.edu.

Arrangements for Blackman wrestler announced

Services have been finalized for Daniel Winters, the Blackman High School wrestler who died in a car accident early Sunday morning.

Visitation will be held Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. at Murfreesboro Funeral Home, 145 Innsbrooke Boulevard. The funeral will take place Wednesday at 1 p.m., with burial to follow in Nolensville.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to a gofundme account that has been established.

Also, the Blackman wrestling program will be selling T-shirts in Daniel’s honor, with the proceeds to be donated to the family. For more information, e-mail blackmanwrestling@gmail.com.

Blackman duo set to wrestle collegiately at UT-C, MTSU

Tennessee-Chattanooga’s wrestling roster will have even more of a Middle Tennessee flavor next season, with Blackman’s Tyler Garrison confirming Thursday his intention to sign a scholarship with the state’s only NCAA Division I program.

“It’s one of the top DI programs in the South,” said Garrison, who has won 83 straight matches over the last two years and is 46-0 this season at 160 pounds. “It’s close to home, and it’s where I’ve wanted to go.”

After losing in the 152-pound consolation quarterfinals of the 2013 state tournament, Garrison went 37-0 last year at 152 but was unable to compete in the Class AAA state tourney after being ruled medically ineligible.

Chattanooga’s current roster includes four former Midstate high school wrestlers – sophomores Scottie Boykin (Riverdale), McCoy Newberg (Independence) and John Shrader (Franklin) and freshman Alan D’Alessandro (Clarksville).

“We’re starting to work really hard,” Garrison said of the increased level of talent in Middle Tennessee. “And we want to work hard for Chattanooga. (The program) is getting to be known in the country.”

“We’re getting better,” added Blackman coach Ronnie Bray. “Kids are getting better, traveling (to wrestle in the offseason).”

Blackman 138-pounder Josh “Bam Bam” Feuerbacher, meanwhile, announced he will wrestle with the club program at Middle Tennessee State. He’ll continue a family tradition, with older brother Eric currently on the MTSU team as a senior 133-pounder.

“They’re kinda like brothers,” said Feuerbacher, who placed fourth at 138 last season and fifth in 2013. “We’ve all been together and we all get along well. It won’t be that much of a change because I’ve been around them.”

First-year coach has McGavock in state wrestling duals field

It didn’t take Paul Douglas long to put his stamp on the McGavock wrestling program.

In his first season after taking over for the retired Larry Coffee, Douglas has coached the Raiders to the Region 6-AAA duals championship and a berth in the Class AAA state duals tournament, which takes place this weekend at the Williamson County Ag Expo in Franklin.

McGavock is the first Metro Nashville team to make the 16-team Class AAA tourney field since Glencliff reached the 2009 tournament, and looks to become the first Metro team to win a match in the event since Antioch advanced to the 2008 consolation semifinals and finished 3-2.

“We’ve made a lot of changes in the program,” Douglas said. “These young men have worked really hard. It’s a group that’s heavy on freshmen and sophomores, so hopefully we’ll be in the mix for a while.”

After finishing second in District 12-AAA with a 40-34 loss to district champion Antioch, McGavock clinched a spot in the state duals by going to Independence for the Region 6-AAA tournament and defeating host and 11-AAA titlist Independence 39-32. In the finals, the Raiders defeated Summit 36-33 – avenging a 43-27 regular-season loss to the Spartans in the process.

“They’re tough,” veteran Antioch coach Jerome Dooley said. “Their middleweights are really tough. They’re going to be a tough team to deal with.

“I think they put in a lot of work over the offseason. They’re a lot stronger, and they’ve got some experience, got some great athletes. They worked through the summer, went to some camps.”

Douglas said summer work with programs in Union County, Ky., and Arab, Ala., helped his team.

“We’re trying to work on a different mentality in the room,” he said. “We’re evolving. We never really went to camp, but we went up to Union County the last couple of years and they’ve got a hardnosed group of young men. We went down to Arab (pronounced A-rab) and wrestled some different folks.

“We’re trying to change the atmosphere. McGavock is known as a football/basketball school, and we’re just trying to get the culture changed. It’s been a lot of fun.”

It’s not all been fun. Just before the earlier Summit matchup, Douglas lost a couple of seniors due to disciplinary action

“We’d had a lot of change in the (wrestling) room,” he said. “We’d had to throw some kids into the fire. The kids didn’t know who was going to go where; we had some weight management issues. But we got those things straightened out. Following that first Summit match, I brought each wrestler in and spoke to them individually, came up with a plan for each of them. They got refocused and got motivated, and I think we may have gotten a little better.”

Meanwhile, the school administration has provided a boost for the program as well.

“We’ve added a locker room; we’ve never had that for the wrestlers,” Douglas said. “We’re starting remodeling on the wrestling room in March. We’re about to blow out a couple of walls, we’ll have more stands for our fans. We’re getting pull-up bars, we’ll have cardio space. We’re working on new mats. We haven’t had new mats since 1990.

“Our principal, (Robbin) Wall has really gotten on board with wrestling and is pushing for us to make these changes. He’s pushing to help us with it. The kids see that and they’re buying into the system. Our parents have gotten on board and are volunteering and helping with fundraising. We’re just a typical Metro school, trying to compete with these other schools with new facilities.”

Competing with the state’s best is the focus this weekend, and while Douglas describes his lineup as “a team full of no-name wrestlers”, he knows what effort he’ll get from seniors Darius Rutland and Mason Dobbs at 152 and 132 pounds, as well as the rest of the Raiders.

“With my luck, we’ll get Cleveland or Wilson Central or Bradley Central in the opening round,” he said. “But they have to blow the whistle and we’re going to wrestle to the best of our ability. I’d like for us to have some success, but my guys are going to fight ‘em regardless.

“They won’t back down from one match.”

Mat burns: Riverdale cuts class for wrestling …

Long known for its football and more recently for its girls basketball, Riverdale pushed a different sport out front Thursday.

The Warrior wrestlers hosted crosstown rival Oakland in a dual match during school hours, with students getting out of class to attend.

“It’s part of our homecoming week,” principal Tom Nolan said. “It’s something we do every year, to try to help grow the program. Most people don’t know a lot about wrestling. This gives our kids a chance to see kids (compete) that they don’t normally get to see, exposes them to something different.

“And it being Oakland, makes it a little more interesting.”

Riverdale's Nick Boykin (top) works for a first-period pin of Oakland's Kofi Arthur during Thursday's match

Riverdale’s Nick Boykin (top) works for a first-period pin of Oakland’s Kofi Arthur during Thursday’s match

Despite the presence of reigning Class AAA champion Sean Kennedy and 2014 third-place finisher Nick Boykin, the visiting Patriots got out with a 60-23 win.

“We had a fun time,” said Boykin, who finished a pin just before the end of the first period against Oakland 285-pounder Kofi Arthur. “Usually there’s nobody cheering you on (at dual matches). It makes it go better when you’ve got somebody cheering for you, like in football.”

Among the student spectators was Kahliya Murry, a junior forward for the Lady Warrior basketball team.

“It’s weird to see them wrestling,” she said. “They’re different people in class. They’re nice. They’re mean when they’re wrestling.”

For Riverdale coach Shawn Jones, the crowd was a pleasing sight for more than one reason.

“Wrestling isn’t a revenue-generating sport,” he said. “To have enough people to pay the official is saying something. But for these guys to have an opportunity to come out and show what they’ve got, they love it.

“The kids come and they’re thinking WWE, coming off the top rope. They see what it’s really about and they get into it. We love it.”

Riverdale makes the trip to Oakland on Jan. 16 for an in-school match.

Conflict resolution: They’re only about 15 minutes (OK, probably 20) apart, but take it from a guy who’s tried to cover both:

The G.P. West and the Father Ryan wrestling tournaments are an either/or proposition.

And their shared spot on the schedule this weekend puts a lot of pressure on teams and fans (as well as concerned media).

Franklin and Clarksville, which have typically competed in both tournaments when able, had to choose this year. Clarksville will participate in the Brentwood tourney, with Franklin going to Ryan.

“They usually have theirs the weekend before ours,” Brentwood coach Joe Blair said. “It usually works out that theirs is the first weekend in January and ours is the second. I’m not sure what happened.”

But it sounds as if the conflict is on the way to a resolution.

“We’re looking at changing our (date) next year,” Ryan athletics director Pat Lawson said.

“We recognize the quality of wrestling in this area has grown to the point that we need to have the best teams at one tournament. We’re looking at changing ours so that we can compete against the best each and every weekend – and at the same time, uphold the tradition of the Johnny Drennan Invitational with quality teams and quality competition while recognizing they (Brentwood) want to do the same for their tournament as well.”

Wrestling at Brentwood starts at 6 p.m. Friday and will resume at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Semifinals are expected to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, with championship matches set for approximately 4 p.m.

At Ryan, wrestling begins at 2 p.m. Friday and starts back up Saturday at 10 a.m. Semis are expected to start at about 12 noon with the finals at about 6 p.m.

This week’s state rankings: Tbe Tennessee High School Wrestling Poll, compiled by Luther Killian, for this week is as follows.

1. Baylor (last week 1)

2. Father Ryan (2)

3. Bradley Central (3)

4. Cleveland (4)

5. Montgomery Bell Academy (7)

6. Wilson Central (6)

7. McCallie (5)

8. Christian Brothers (9)

9. Beech (10)

10. Soddy Daisy (8)

11. Brentwood (NR)

12. Tullahoma (11)

Also receiving votes (in alphabetical order): Arlington, Cookeville, Halls, Pigeon Forge, Red Bank, Science Hill, Summit.