Typically the night of the Regionals Wrestling Individual Tournament, the praise goes to the athletes who qualify for State.
Next in line to get credit are the head coaches, like Arlington Tigers Jonathan Simpson. Saturday night as Simpson’s program celebrated in the Arlington Gymnasium preparing to send 10 wrestlers to this week’s TSSAA State Wrestling Individual Tournament in Franklin, the leader of the Tigers wanted to make sure some unsung heroes got some of the spotlight.
“It takes a lot of work,” he said. “To be honest with you, my assistant coaches have done a lot of it. I have some dedicated guys who work with these kids. The time in the weight room to the time on the mat, to even the time on the football field getting in here. They make them feel good about themselves.
“They recruit kids up and down the hallways,” Simpson added. “Those guys have bleed and sweat, and even some of them have cried with our kids. They do a great job with them.”
The work of the entire Tiger coaching staff helped Caleb Morgan, Reid Cacaro, Andrew Zarshenas, John Craft, Anthony Huelly, Michael Mowery, Nathan Enzor, Rayveon Hardin, Trey Claus and Johnathan Metcalf reach State. Half of those athletes claimed the Region title for his weight class.
Another school that will also be well-represented at State is Cordova. The Wolfpack have been taken over by Head Coach Thaddeus Hubbard.
Coming from the Kingsbury program, Hubbard wanted to keep the strong Cordova program on top. James Costner, William Wiilson, Justin Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Drequan Adams and Salvador Martinez are heading to Franklin. Martinez will represent Cordova as the Region champion in 285.
“It has been hard a lot of the time,” Hubbard said. “But all that hard work leads to his glory. We have seven going to State and they put in hard work to get there.”
Hard work can have its rewards quickly like for Millington Trojan wrestler Deadrick Payton. In two years of competing, the senior reached State under the guidance of William Richardson.
Payton weighs 187 pounds. He has competed in the 220 pound division seven times leading to his finals match up with Bolton’s Nick Wilson.
Wilson delivered Payton’s his first defeat in the 220-pound class to capture the Region title.
Despite the set back, Payton was still happy to be heading to Franklin with his teammate Charles Rockiemore (126).
“It feels good to make it to State,” Payton said. “I wish I would have won first. But I get to go to State in my second year of wrestling. I want to win a medal. And I have to give credit to Coach. He helped us do it with all those practices and believing in us.”
Simpson said all the coaches at Regionals believe in their athletes. But it takes the dedication for the students to reach their goals.
“The kids themselves have worked,” he said of his Tigers. “Every single day they come in and work hard. I can’t say enough good things about the hard work these kids put in everyday. Nobody slacks and everybody looks to get 1 percent better each day. Some days we get 5 percent. But we get at least 1 percent better. We work hard to get that 1 percent better everyday.”
Improving 1 percent is a part of Tiger Tough. Simpson introduced this slogan to Arlington to build character, academic, community and to improve around the mat.
“Tiger Tough was something I started when I got here this summer,” he recalled. “And the kids have bought into it. The parents bought into it. It’s an culture. It’s an absolute culture.
“We’ve got kids who are living it on a daily basis,” Simpson concluded. “We’ve got parents pushing their kids to live it on a daily basis. It’s just great to see and they love it. They talk about it all the time.”
The State Tournament is scheduled to be held Feb. 12-14 at the Williamson Co. Expo Center. Below is the list of champions and other top three finishers for each weight class heading to State.
106 – Caleb Morgan (Arlington) over Kameron Evans (Houston) 4-2
11 3- Jared Briant (Collierville) over Jonathan Abel (Bolton) 13-5
120 – Travis Arthur (Houston) over David Thomas (Bartlett) 14-6
126 – Keaton Jones (Houston) over Reid Cacaro (Arlington) 5-4
132 – Andrew Zarshenas (Arlington) over Colin Jones (Houston) pinfall 1:03
138 – John Craft (Arlington) over Diego Scott-McCabe (Collierville) pinfall 3:29
145 – Kris Biedsoe (Bolton) over Anthony Huelly (Arlington) pinfall 5:01
152 – Michael Mowery (Arlington) over James Costner (Cordova) 3-2
160 – Nathan Enzor (Arlington) over Matthew Mullins (Cordova) 7-3
170 – Jeffrey Houston (Germantown) over Kennedy Sanders (Houston) 6-1
182 – Mo Sambe (Germantown) over Dawson Johnson (Bartlett) Injury
195 – Rayveon Hardin (Arlington) over Ahmad Mawlawi (Kingsbury) pinfall 1:33
220 – Nick Wilson (Bolton) over Deadrick Payton (Millington) 10-3
285 – Salvador Martinez (Cordova) over Kevin Howard (Germantown) pinfall 3:37
106 – Justin Kimble (Collierville) over William Wiilson (Cordova) 7-3
113 – Matthew Smolin (Houston) over Quentin Carey (Memphis East) 12-5
120 – Donovan Nason (Kingsbury) over Elian Sours (Collierville) pinfall 3:34
126 – Dalton Ridling (Bolton) over Charles Rockiemore (Millington) 11-0
132 – Justin Taylor (Cordova) over Tyler Brown (Munford) pinfall 3:24
138 – Garrett Johnson (Germantown) over Jordan Taylor (Cordova) pinfall 2:37
145 – Matthew Dale (Houston) over Josiah Miller (Germantown) 4-3
152 – Chris Hall (Bartlett) over Cameron Murphy (Houston) pinfall 5:33
160 – Christian Cara (Bartlett) over Caleb Patterson (Bolton) 7-3
170 – Josh Dorsey (Bartlett) over Jaquez Morton (Memphis East) pinfall 4:21
182 – Drequan Adams (Cordova) over Sam Meagher (Houston) pinfall 5:40
195 – David Fairley (Bolton) over Parker Gingery (Bartlett) 6-0
220 – Trey Claus (Arlington) over Justin Jones (Houston) 12-4
285 – Johnathan Metcalf (Arlington) over Elijah Holcomb (Collierville) 9-4
Written by Thomas Sellers Jr., special to the Express.