Three years ago the Fairview wrestling blasted onto the state stage to take third in the Class A-AA Duals tournament in their first showing in school history on the state stage. The following year, the Yellow Jackets produced the first school wrestling champion since 2004.
On Saturday, the upward trend continued in the Class A-AA individual championships as the Yellow Jackets managed just one finalist, but had nine of 11 wrestlers finish in the top six in the state to wrap-up a school first runner-up finish in the tournament. Two weeks ago the school wrestled for the first team sport championship in Fairview history in the state duals tournament and also took home second-place.
“To be able to accumulate enough points in (consolations) with one guy in the finals, that says a lot about who we are and how deep we are as a program,” said Fairview coach James Derrick, whose Yellow Jackets racked up 143.5 points to top Greeneville (134.5) for second behind tournament champion Pigeon Forge (224). “Hopefully we can do this every year. … These kind of things were unheard of for us, and not just our wrestling program.
“We’ve been unheard of for so long and to make history last weekend as the first runner-up in any sport for Fairview and to make it two weekends in a row now, I couldn’t be more proud of our school, our community and how hard these kids have worked.”
The runner-up state finish came on the same night as the boys basketball team capturing a District 11-AA championship for the third consecutive season as well, so the Fairview faithful were split in where to cheer, but as passionate as ever on both fronts.
Junior Riley Bennett reached his third consecutive final as the lone Yellow Jacket in the finals.
Bennett was runner-up at 126 pounds as a freshman, runner-up at 132 as a sophomore and battled to another second-place finish at 138 Saturday.
Despite the loss to Pigeon Forge’s Garrett Foreman in the final, Derrick praised his junior standout for carrying himself through the pressure of leading the team.
“You know, had he won it, he would have calmly walked off the mats the same way he did in a loss,” Derrick said. “It’s more than a win or a loss … He represented his school and community and we are so proud.”
Bennett edged Foreman in last year’s 132-pound semifinals. The two didn’t wrestle one another when Pigeon Forge topped the Yellow Jackets for the duals title earlier this month.
“I got a good leg early but I couldn’t finish it and he ended up scoring two,” Bennett said of the title match. “It’s just tough when he’s up 2-0 right in the beginning … it doesn’t feel good when you’re down like that and have to try to climb back up.”
Foreman, who was named the outstanding wrestler in A-AA, stayed in control for the most part through both the first and second round and took advantage of opening early in the third period to record a pin.
“It definitely feels good to get back here, but I’m going to put in more work during the off-season and make sure I come back even better,” Bennett said.
Malachi Bennett, Riley’s freshman brother, bounced back from a semifinal loss against eventual state runner-up and three-time medalist Kevin Muschel of Signal Mountain in the 145-pound division to take third. Bennett scored a major decision in the consolation semifinals against Gibbs junior Colby Tate and stopped Sullivan South junior Alex Overbay 11-4 in the third-place match.
Cody DeLano (182) and Kendrick Curtis (152) also reached the third-place matches but settled for fourth. Curtis, a freshman, fell to Nolensville senior Gavin Channell.
“It means a lot to finish third,” said Channell, a Belmont-Abbey wrestling signee and fifth-place finisher at 145 last year. “My last match with Nolensville was a win and that’s something I’m taking with me the rest of my life.
“There’s a sense of pride there that I don’t think anybody will understand until you actually wrestle.”
Channell scored a 9-2 decision win. The senior fell in the state semifinals on a take down in the final seconds on Friday. His teammate and fellow senior Jacob Vogelpohl also captured third at 138.
“We’ve all come a long way in short time,” Channell said of helping launch the young school’s program. “Freshman year was kind of trying to understand who we are. We took that first step sophomore year and got to state for the first time as a team and that’s where the lighter really hit the flame.”
Nolensville has mirrored much of the success Fairview has found in the same timespan, only as a new school. The Knights were runner-up in the state duals in 2018 and fell against the Yellow Jackets in the semifinals earlier this month.
Other medalists for the Knights included McKinley Wagner (4th at 195) and Nathan Montpool (6th at 182).
Both Cole Dorsett (106) and Riley Lippincott (126) reached the championship rounds for Nolensville.
Lippincott, who placed third at 106 last year, fell late in the third round by technical fall against Greeneville’s Hunter Mason in the championship.