By Trey Williams
Junior Devon Medina’s state runner-up finish highlighted Science Hill’s showing at the state wrestling meet Feb. 24-26 in Franklin.
Medina, a 195-pounder, improved on the third-place showing of his older brother Denzel.
“Devon Medina had a rough go at it,” veteran Science Hill head coach Jimmy Miller said. “He had some competition to get through just to reach the state tournament. But he won his regional and his sectional and then went on and was the state runner-up.
“He got beat by the defending state champion (Tetoe Boyd) from Cleveland in a really close match. He got beat, 6-4. It was tied up, 4-4, with like 10 seconds to go and we give up a last-second takedown.”
Winning is in Medina’s blood.
“Devon’s older brother Denzel wrestled for me as well,” Miller said. “He was a very successful wrestler, placed third in the state as a senior. So there’s some lineage there. There might even be some inner-house politics about wanting to do better than his brother did.
“Devon is a super athletic kid. He’s got a lot of drive. And he’s still learning. …
“He’s got great teammates and a great drill partner in Perry Tate, who found his way into the state tournament. Perry pushed him and pushed him and pushed, and really made Devon what he was.”
Sophomore Stiles Miller (106 pounds) finished fourth in the state. His brother Tripp, a senior, didn’t place after also winning the region and sectional. It was a bittersweet state meet for Coach Miller, who is Stiles’ and Tripp’s father.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t a tough moment to watch my youngest son get on the podium and my oldest son had to be in the bleachers watching,” Miller said. “There’s a saying around the room: There’s not a kid in that room that wants to be Coach Miller’s son. You know, it’s a tough draw. The expectation is high. The expectation is high regardless of whether you’re my kid or not, but it seems to sometimes fall on him harder than it does the others because he is my kid and I do expect more out of him and I do expect him to wrestle at a level that he’s been taught and preached and pressured into doing all his life.
“And Tripp Miller’s handled it wonderfully. It’s not easy to wrestle for your dad, much less wrestle for me if he wasn’t my kid. But he did great. He won the region, won the substate (sectional). He put two tournaments in his pocket that he won and qualified for the state tournament, and he was almost there.”
Stiles Miller helped Ansley Reed finish third in the state in girls.
“She had a great season,” Miller said. “To her benefit, a lot of times she would practice with Stiles. They were within 5-10 pounds of each other. There wouldn’t be a week that she didn’t walk out of that room beat up, broken, bruised from wrestling a male counterpart. But it benefited her a tremendous amount wrestling somebody that made her find her best.
“She lost in the region finals. So at the state she’s not seeded and works her way through the bracket and gets in the championship semifinals. … Ansley puts her chin down and goes to work. She fights her way back to a third-place finish, which is phenomenal with her being a sophomore.”
Junior Dylan Winters (126) finished sixth in the state. He had a 33-10 record on the season.
“We had four kids place in the state tournament, which is a huge improvement back to where we need to be,” Miller said. “We ended up with five sectional champions. Dobyns-Bennett had three. Maryville had two. We placed third in the sectional as a team behind Maryville and Dobyns-Bennett. We took eight boys and four girls to the state tournament.
“We had a great season last year and then we go down to the state tournament and just had a terrible postseason tournament.”
Emily Mattison made a sudden impact.
“Emily Mattison was the regional champ as a first-year wrestler,” Miller said. “Emily has done an unbelievable job. She really picked it up quick. She’s athletic. I couldn’t be more proud of Emily.
“Peyton Pridemore, another senior, didn’t have maybe as great a season as we would’ve wanted to on paper, but fought his way through and got fourth in the region and then came back and probably one of his best tournaments he’s ever had in the sectionals and placed third and qualified for the state tournament. That’s a big deal.”
Heavyweight Keimel Redford won the region and section.
“He had a good year,” Miller said. “The Science Hill program took a step back in the right direction. And all of our medalists will be back next year.”