The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association returns to the Williamson County Ag Expo Center Feb. 1-2 for the State Dual Wrestling Tournament.
Ravenwood High School and Independence High School are usual residents in the Class AAA bracket as the pair has reached this level for the fourth-consecutive year – a feat Raptors coach Josh Peck marvels at.
“It may be a first since the Division II split that any teams have made it (so many) times in a row that I know of,” he said. “Independence has come a long way too. They were a brand new school (at the time of the split) too.”
Both members of District 11-AAA, it has been since the 2005 tournament that neither the Eagles nor the Raptors have advanced to the Round of 16.
Ravenwood advanced this year thanks to their fourth-straight Region 6-AAA championship, won Jan. 26 thanks to an Independence forfeit. The Raptors defeated Hunters Lane in the semifinals 60-13.
Knowing they were already in the state tournament thanks to a 40-25 win over Overton, Indy relinquished their chance at a region crown to preserve health – a key to advancing at the duals tournament.
In fact, Ravenwood’s coach believes health is one of the two most important factors in his team aiming for a title.
“Staying healthy and wrestling at the top of your game are the two things that have to happen,” said Peck. “Both are extremely hard to do.”
Key to Ravenwood’s success are Jacob Freeman – the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at the 145-pound weight class – and 160-pound Tanner Reynolds who his coach calls “fun to watch”. Peck also mentioned Taylor Warren (152), Rex Shotts (220), Bowen Reau (285), and Jacob Travis (120) as athletes to watch.
The draw is not easy for Ravenwood despite being separated from Independence – the Raptors are in the bottom half of the bracket and the Eagles in the top. Ravenwood’s opening match against Beech has caused a minor stir on Internet message boards.
“We’re going to have our hands full just with the first round,” Peck said. “People are arguing on CoachT.com who’s going to win that – us or Beech. We’re going to have our hands full just in the first round.”
The grouping of Soddy-Daisy, Cleveland, and Wilson Central also worries the coach.
While Ravenwood and Independence have become the standard for wrestling in Middle Tennessee, they still have some work to do to claim the title for the entire state.
“We’re getting there,” said Peck. “We’re not quite up to the Chattanooga powerhouses yet, but I’m hoping we’re closing the gap.”
Over the last seven years, Ravenwood and Independence has suffered nine tournament losses to teams from the Chattanooga area – the majority of which went on to win or place second.
Indy opens the tournament Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Knoxville Halls. The winner advances to face either Heritage or Blackman.
Ravenwood’s match against Beech is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday with the winner seeing either Wilson Central or Bearden.
Brentwood Academy represents Williamson County in the Division II tournament, facing Father Ryan at 3:30 p.m. The winner advances to either McCallie or St. Benedict.