By Collin Brooks
Coming off a 3rd place finish in the TSSAA AAA-State Duals meet two weeks ago, the Science Hill Hilltoppers will be making a return trip to the Williamson Expo Center in Franklin as 11 wrestlers qualified for the individual meet that takes place Feb. 16-18.
“It typically surprises a lot of people, but it never surprises the people that are associated with the program,” Science Hill wrestling coach Jimmy Miller said about the Toppers finish. “We have a tough schedule and we do that on purpose. We schedule hard in December and January to prepare us for February.”
Science Hill fell to Cleveland in the semi-final 35-30, which set them up with Tennessee High. The Toppers topped the Vikings for the second time this season with their 30-22 win. The third place finish tied the best finish in school history with the 2009-2010 team.
The Toppers are hoping all of the wrestling they’ve that done for the past few months will translate into success for their individuals this week.
“This group compares right there with them and head-to-head we could go right with that 09-10 team,” Miller said.
But the Toppers are just hoping that all of their hard work will pay off in top finishes for the team.
“There is kind of a saying in our room, that if you want to be somebody, you have to beat somebody,” Miller said. “If you want to be a state medalist, then you probably have to beat one.”
And Science Hill has plenty of people that accomplish that mantra.
There were five region champions that won for Science Hill with Nathan Wysong (120 lbs), Cooper Williams (132), Arthur James (152), Chase Diehl (160) and Weston Brown (182).
Wysong, a sophomore, is a talented wrestler with a unique style, according to Miller.
“He’s got as good a chance as anyone,” Miller said. “Looking at his draw, he — based on our schedule and the kids he’s been in front of every weekend — he’s got as good a shot as any to go down there and finish in the top six.”
Williams at 132 pounds claimed his first region title with a 6-0 decision over Tennessee High’s Logan Ferguson on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Dobyns-Bennett.
“One of his brightest accomplishments was that he finally won a region title,” Miller said. “He’s been in the region finals, I think, every year of his high school career and he finally got him one.”
James is a returning state medalist as a junior and gathered his second region championship. His coach expects James — who is 39-4 on the season — to get down to business and bring home some hardware.
“If Arthur wrestles like Arthur and we can get his neutral game to be where it needs to be, there is nothing that can keep him from being in the state finals this year,” Miller said
Diehl, a sophomore, is another wrestler that has high expectations as he has won over 45 matches on the season.
“This kid has figured out how to wrestle close matches and he goes into the state tournament, he is going to run the gauntlet and he might find his way into the state finals.. he knows how to win that match in overtime. When it is 1-1 in overtime, Chase Diehl is comfortable.”
Brown, another region champion, is a third year wrestler like Denzel Medina, who is also appearing at the state tournament.
Tyler Seeley at 106 and Luke Story at 138 are also making appearances in the state championship and those two wrestlers are considered hardened competitors by their coach. Junior James Kalogeros at 170 pounds, Garrett Stinter (126), and senior Greyson Pridemore (145) will also be making an appearance in the tournament.
“Wrestling is just a platform for life lessons and those young men understand that sometimes life is going to knock you down and it’s going to give you a bad break and you are going to have to figure out how to respond,” Miller said. “Everybody can quit, everybody can give up, but that’s not what we do and that’s not how we respond to bad situations.”