The revived Franklin Rebel Invitational wrestling tournament made its return to Franklin High School over the weekend and featured more than two dozen schools in a boys and girls showcase.
The Williamson County high school hasn’t hosted the tournament in more than a decade, but it was one of the first big goals when former Rebel wrestler and coach Andrew Tomlinson returned as the Rebels head wrestling coach last April.
“We were nervous initially as we started looking for teams when the school year began, but then it just kind of exploded in the fall and we ended up having to turn teams away because we it was getting too big,” Tomlinson said as the final matches Saturday came to a close. “There was a longstanding tradition for this tournament and to be able to bring it back and have these wrestlers add to it, it’s really cool to be a part of again.”
Five county teams competed and captured the first three places in the final team standings on the boys’ side. Page claimed the boys’ team title with 217.5 points as 12 of 13 wrestlers medaled. Nolensville, which is coached by another former Rebel in Josh Peck, finished second (189) and Franklin (131.5) was third.
WillCo wrestlers placed in every weight class in the boys' tournament and only three divisions didn't include a country wrestler in the finals.
Saturday’s team win for the Patriots was the second in a row for Page, which won the Redhawk Rampage last weekend at Stewarts Creek.
“This was a great platform for us to get ready for a big week,” said Patriots coach Benji Gray, whose team battles Overton on senior night Tuesday before a district showdown at Summit Thursday. “Thomas Brown, he’s a freshman at 113 and did phenomenal, 126 Grant Hawkinson, another freshman who did great. I mean everybody really did great for us.
“I think for us, in the practice room is where we are so successful and we have been able to translate that well out here.”
Brown posted four straight pins Saturday to win the 113-pound title. He handed Payton Boyde of Harpeth just his second loss of the season with a first round pin in the first-place match.
“I really feel like we all did well,” said Brown, who improved to 22-3. “We’re happy about this one, but we’re going to go back into the practice room and work at it just to make sure we can get these two wins this week.”
Both Will Parcel (138) and Dylan Miller (145) finished runner-up for Page in minor decisions.
Nolensville’s Jacob Vogelpohl tipped Miller in the final with a 9-2 decision, while Parcel fell to Michael Guillen of Dickson County, 6-3.
The Patriots had six wrestlers take third: Grant Hawkinson at 126, Josh Ward at 132, Ray Magee at 160, Ezra Chrisman at 170, Mitchell Lambert at 182 and Max VanLandingham at 195. Collins Fiscus (152) and Sean Holder (285) added fourth place finishes.
Besides Vogelpohl’s title, Nolensville’s Riley Lippincott dominated to capture the 126-pound championship. The junior, who was named most outstanding wrestler for the lower weights, didn’t surrender a point in three matches with one pin, a 16-0 technical fall in the semifinals and a 11-0 major decision win over Franklin’s Brock Wittman in the final.
Gavin Channell (152) and McKinley Wagner (195) also won titles for the Knights. Seniors Wagner, Channell and Vogelpohl all helped establish the young Knights program four years ago.
“This whole season has been special for all of us and we’re hoping we can cap it off with a state championship next month,” said Wagner, who improved to 31-4 with an 8-5 decision against Fort Campbell’s Jesus Avila in the final. “This is really a AAA tournament, so I think we sent a message as a A-AA team that we are here to compete.”
Avila earned an escape and claimed a 4-3 lead late in the second before Wagner regained the edge with a reverse to end the period. Channell had a similar start early against Ensworth’s Martez Cooksey, but pushed the tempo in the third to claim a 13-6 decision.
“I could taste blood, both literally and figuratively,” he said afterward. “I just felt like this is it. I knew he was tired and I really wanted that gold medal. … this really means a lot to me and our team to be able to beat these AAA teams.”
Franklin produced three champions in senior 160-pounder Cooper Grills and sophomore Owen Gobel at 106. On the girls’ side, Annalise Dodson won the Lady Rebels first-ever title at 125 for the newly established Franklin girls program, launched last season.
Analise Dodson of Franklin wins the girls 125-pound crown at the Franklin Rebel Invitational —> pic.twitter.com/sI6HOoMKPD— Charles Pulliam (@cspulliam) January 11, 2020
“I’m so happy all my hard is beginning to pay off,” said Dodson, who was also the only WillCo winner in the girls' tournament. “It feels so nice to be able to wrestle at home. It made me feel more aggressive to have all these people from Franklin come here and cheer me on.”
Dodson, a junior, pinned Columbia Central’s Daija Sams in the final seconds of the first round in the final.
Four locals placed in the inaugural girls’ tournament at Franklin.
Summit freshman Rylee Bennett was third at 125 and teammate Emma Stephenson was runner-up at 132. Franklin’s Sydney Heuser was fourth at 215.
“It warms my heart to see so many girls wrestling,” Dodson said. “I’m always asking people to try it and join.”
Grills, a Rebel senior who has had three different coaches in four years, said hosting the tournament and having several medalists helps show Franklin is is more established.
“It’s so nice to wrestle at home like this and to get a win,” he said. “I think we showed that Franklin is coming back and that we are all getting better.”
Foster Ehrie (145) and Daniel Helton (182) added a fourth place finishes for the Rebels, while Sawyer Robinson at 152 battled all the way through the consolation bracket, but had to end his day short of a medal in the consolation semifinals because of the five-match rule.
“It’s really hard to be fully satisfied unless you have 14 champions,” Grills said. “But we had a couple and a few others place, so that’s something for us to keep building on.”
Ravenwood’s Bryan Rice was the other county finalist. Rice controlled his 220-pound final, but a late stalling whistle forced a 3-3 tie and overtime against East Nashville’s Jerry Campbell. Campbell secured a sudden-death take down to take the title.
The Raptors, who also had Noah Kang (120) place third, produced 56 points and finished 14th overall.
Wrestling Photo Gallery – Franklin Rebel Invitational
For the first time in more than a decade Franklin High School hosted a wrestling tournament. The Franklin Rebel Invitational included more than two dozen schools and featured a boys girls tournament on Jan. 11, 2020. These images are from the early rounds.