A couple of months have passed since the wrestling season ended for Science Hill, but for two ‘Toppers the memory of their state championships still brings wide smiles to their face.
Science Hill senior Luke Story finished his season with a 62-3 record and took home the top prize for wrestlers in the 138-pound weight class. Junior Chase Diehl finished the season 56-3 and took home first place at 168 pounds.
“It felt great,” Story said of winning a state championship. “It was really surreal. I accomplished what I have been working toward for the past seven or eight years. To finally get it feels really good.”
Diehl echoed the sentiments of his teammate.
“Every wrestler wants to be a state champion at one point or another and to finally accomplish my goal feels good,” Diehl said.
Those two state titles were icing on the cake for a team that finished their season as AAA runner-up – improving from a third-place finish in 2017. The Toppers also received a runner-up finish in the 145-weight class from Arthur James. James finished his senior season with a 47-11 record and became the first Science Hill wrestler to medal three times. Fellow senior Denzel Medina took home a third-place finish at 220 pounds, finishing his final season with a 52-10 record.
Science Hill wrestling Coach Jimmy Miller said that he was proud of his wrestlers for a hard-fought season.
“For those kids that work their tail off, day-in-and-day-out, it’s indescribable how proud and what pride I have for them,” Miller said. “They saw the light at the end of the tunnel and they didn’t fall short. They realize that people that work hard do get good things. For all the blood, sweat and tears that I pushed out of them, it shows them that hard work does pay off.”
And those are some of the off-the-mat lessons that Miller says wrestling teaches students.
“Our sport is full of life lessons,” Miller said. “You don’t have to be on this planet very long to figure out that life is going to knock you down, it’s going to punch you in the mouth. That is what we teach the kids in our program… Things are not going to go perfect and it is how you respond; we try to grow men of character.
“We hope kids will take the same approach to life that we teach them on the mat; figure out a way to win and a way to be successful.”
Those lessons help to define Story, who grew tremendously during his time, according to Miller.
“It was just a joy to watch Luke as he has transitioned,” Miller said. “I remember watching him as a seventh-grader, that couldn’t tie his shoe. To become a dominant force in our class and being a kid that is wrestling 65 or so matches, it’s just great.”
Story is hoping to wrestle at the collegiate level, but he said the lessons that he learned during his time as a ‘Topper will be applied to his life on or off the mat.
“Wrestling has taught me a lot about persevering through obstacles and being comfortable while I’m uncomfortable,” Story said. “That helped me on the mat, but it will also help me in my life.”
Diehl has one more year on the high school mat and he said he is already preparing to defend his state championship.
“I’m still enjoying the first one, but you have to stay hungry and be ready for the next one,” Diehl said.
Science Hill senior Jim Kalogeros finished in fifth place in the 182-pound weight class for the TSSAA. The girls team also saw success as Science Hill senior Helania Campbell-Ketron finished as runner-up at 125 pounds. Senior Elizabeth Treece finished in fourth place at 112 pounds, while freshman Carlie Brown took home a fifth-place finish and senior Nichole Swink finished in sixth place at 150 pounds.
“This group has set the bar just a little bit higher for us,” Miller said. “It’s going to be hard to follow this group up, but as a program, we have to find a way. We’ve taken that next step, now my challenge, to my kids, my staff and myself is how do we stay on this plane?”