Tag Archives: Eli King

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.

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Let’s get ready to wrestle — state tourney style …

Josh Peck wouldn’t call it strength in numbers, but having a room full of wrestlers two days before the state tournament was an appealing sight for the Ravenwood coach.

And he figures it will be mutually beneficial to all involved.

Six other teams – District 11-AAA rivals Brentwood, Centennial and Independence as well as Page, Battle Ground Academy and Franklin Road Academy – were represented at Tuesday’s practice as fine tuning for the weekend wound down.

“It’s not just having a big room, but having good practice partners,” said Peck, who has traditionally issued an open invitation to area programs this time of year. “Some of these guys can beat everybody on their own team, but you come here and you’ve got a conglomerate.

“There’s somebody that will push you and make you better. And right before state, when the competition level goes up, the better your practice, the better you’ll be.”

Breaking the monotony of a long season is one purpose served by practicing with other teams. Creating a bit of an edge is another.

“You’re out of your element,” Peck said. “You want to work harder with another team – to show them you’re not tired, to show them how hard you work.”

Super six: Middle Tennessee has a half-dozen wrestlers that will be looking for their second state championships in as many seasons.

In Class AAA, Brentwood 152-pound senior Luke Hamilton won at 145 last year. Riverdale’s Sean Kennedy returns at 170 and Wilson Central’s John Kramer is back at 220 after claiming titles at those weights in 2014.

In Division II, Father Ryan’s Eli King eyes a 132-pound crown after winning 106 a year ago, with teammate Chris Wesnofske looking to follow his 2014 win at 132 by doing likewise at 145. Montgomery Bell Academy’s D’on Coofer goes for a second straight 220 title.

Chasing perfection: Riverdale features a pair of undefeated wrestlers — Kennedy (43-0) and sophomore 285-pounder Nick Boykin (38-0).

Also looking to stay perfect is Blackman’s Tyler Garrison, who comes into the state tournament at 54-0 and on a 91-match win streak that covers his junior season as well. The 160-pound Garrison was unable to wrestle in last year’s tournament after being ruled medically ineligible.

Working through tragedy: Blackman will have five wrestlers in action at this week’s tourney, following the death of Daniel Winters in a car wreck early Sunday morning. Winters had just qualified for his first state tournament by placing third in the 120-pound weight class at the Region 5 tourney.

Senior Michael Brobeck, the driver of the vehicle, will not participate after winning the region 132-pound title. Freshman Hunter Winters, Daniel’s younger brother, qualified with a fourth-place region finish at 170 but will not wrestle.

“He’s not ready,” Blackman coach Ronnie Bray said of Hunter’s availability. “If he were a junior or a senior, he’d probably be mature enough, but as a freshman, he’s just not ready.”

As for the remaining five wrestlers – including Garrison, 138-pound region champ Josh Feuerbacher, 152-pound region titlist Matthew Sells and 195-pound region runner-up Andre Bravo – Bray said they’re handling the situation as well as could be expected.

“Each of them is different,” he said. “Thank goodness Tyler and ‘Bam’ (Feuerbacher) are seniors; they’ve still got their eye on the prize. The others are there, trying their best to work hard. (Wednesday) was a big day to get through.

“They’ve been awesome.”

Schedule: Wrestling begins at the Williamson County Ag Expo in Franklin with four rounds of Class AAA competition starting at 3 p.m. Thursday, and resumes Friday at 10 a.m. with all three classes in action as well as the girls tournament. Championship semifinals are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and championship finals are set for 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 per day and parking is $5 daily.

Independence sets fundraiser: The Indy Eagles Wrestling Club will hold a dinner on March 12 at Dolan’s in Spring Hill. Tickets for two are $100, and ticket holders will also be able to guess the number of M&Ms in a jar with a 2015 Ford Escape going to the winner. For more information, go to indywrestlingroom.org.