Arlington Bobcats battled through tough competition to take region titles in the March 8 Region 5 Wrestling Championships for the Tennessee Amateur Athletic Union (TNAAU).
Eighth-grader Caleb Morgan and sixth-grader Jake Knaff each won three matches straight at the Arlington High School event to secure their second consecutive region championship titles. Morgan, a two-time state placer, and Knaff, a returning state champion, will compete along with 11 other Bobcats for state honors this weekend in Cookeville. The top four wrestlers in each age division and weight class earned a place in the Cookeville competition.
Other winners this past weekend were:
- Second place: Gracie McGrath, Chris Deluca, Luke Kerns and Austin Spicer
- Third place: Gavin Haynes,; Paul West and Harrison Phillips
- Fourth place: Aiden Nettleton, Connor Caskey, Clay Spicer and Andrew Enzor
More than 240 boy and girl wrestlers competed in the Region 5 event. Region 5 covers all areas west of Nashville, including Clarksville, Dickson, WarrenCounty and Memphis. Tourney organizers said all the hard work in practice and other competitions help to build wrestlers who have the discipline, self-reliance and experience to be competitive in this event.
Tournament director Brian Owens said, “Wrestling is a challenging sport, but with the age and weight divisions all kids have the opportunity to participate. Coaches do not decide. Decisions are made on the mat.”
Region 5 tourney organizers predict that wrestling in the greater Memphis region will continue to expand with successful tournaments like this one, thanks in part to great parents, AWC alumni, and help from programs like St. Benedict’s and Wave.
“We will take more kids to state this year than we took to regionals last year,” said Bryson Morgan, Arlington Wrestling Club (AWC) president and assistant tournament director. “That is a testament to the dedication of our kids, parents, and especially coaches.”
AWC is one of the fastest-growing clubs in the area.
AWC founder Ivan Pagan said, “AWC has grown considerably since its first season back in 2008-2009. The concept was to create a program that would serve primarily as the feeder program to the Arlington High School wrestling program, but it would also serve to promote wrestling to local area youth and serve as another sports and recreation outlet for kids around Arlington. To a large extent, we have accomplished this by creating the Bobcats program but also by hosting the Arlington Bobcat Classic wrestling tournament, which serves about 200 Memphis area wrestlers each year and by starting the TopCat Wrestling Camp for kids who have never wrestled and want to see what it is all about.”
He still foresees plenty of room for future growth, too. “We envision a youth program serving nearly 100 kids each year, a program that is recognized by and that takes an active part in our community. To that extent, we continue to look at ways to expand our youth membership and to contribute to the greater Arlington community.”
Written by Chris Nettleton, contributor to The Bartlett Express. He can be reached at email@example.com.