Rockets place 3 in state
The Forrest Rockets sent a record six wrestlers to the 2016 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association State Wrestling Championships at the Williamson County Ag Center in Franklin and half of the Chapel Hill participants earned medalist spots at Saturday's final day of competition.
"Three medalists this year and that is the most we have ever had," Forrest coach Kyle Stacey said. "Just an outstanding job this year by all the wresters and all the coaches, we are proud to have every one of them."
Sophomore Dylan Pendley led the way, making his third consecutive trip to the event and bettering his fourth-place finish last year with a second place spot on the podium.
Pendley (113-pounds) opened up with a first-round 14-5 major decision win over Knoxville Grace's Tanner Thornton and followed that with a pin over Jacob Newman from Hixson, sending the Forrest standout to the semifinal round.
Pendley took on junior Scott Weaver from Boyd Buchanan and the Region 3A/AA champion continued his domination with a 14-5 major decision victory over the Buccaneer grappler.
Red Bank junior William Reichel, also a returning state medalist, would be the only wrestler standing in Pendley's way of a state title and the lanky Lion grappler from Chattanooga got the best of Pendley in the championship bout.
"That boy was good, he comes from a great wrestling program at Red Bank that won the state duals," Stacey said. "Dylan wrestled hard and left it all on that mat."
After a scoreless first period, Reichel went up 6-0 in the second period and won going away in an 11-0 major decision win over his Forrest Rocket opponent, who put up an outstanding 42-4 overall record for the season, including first-place finishes in the Creek Wood and Mountain Top tournaments.
"Dylan had a great year with great effort and he has nothing to be ashamed of at all," Stacey said. "Dylan did everything he could do fighting him off, sometimes those legs are hard to defend. I'm positive Dylan will remember this and work hard to get better and come back here next year and win."
Forrest Freshman Jeffery Gross (106) won the Region 3A/AA title and had a bye in the first round before coming up with his initial state tournament victory via a dominating 10-2 major decision win over Rylie Hart from Hixson.
The road to the title got much tougher for the Forrest grappler as he would face junior Dymond Smith from Pigeon Forge in the semifinals where the eventual state champion Smith won a hard-fought 8-4 decision.
"Jeff had a tough night Friday night and came back and fought hard today," Stacey said. "He is instrumental to our wrestling program, he works hard in the classroom, outside the classroom and we are just blessed to have him."
Gross, who was guaranteed a medalist spot with his semifinal appearance took on Isaac Tate from Signal Mountain in the next round and the Chapel Hill wrestler took a 4-1 lead into the third period before putting away Tate 8-4.
Gross would wrestle for the third-place spot on the podium versus fellow freshman Jeremy Holloway from Notre Dame and the match was a classic battle that ended in a 0-0 tie after regulation.
Holloway would get a takedown in overtime, winning 2-0 in the title bout.
"I felt like he was working to do whatever he could do to get him," Stacey said. "I don't think he got much help from the ref---I thought there was a stalling call after the other kid got a warning."
Gross ended up with a stellar 40-3 record, including second place invitational tournament finishes at Harpeth and Creek Wood and first place at the Mountain Top Classic.
"Jeff makes everybody better and he has a bright, bright future ahead of him," Stacey stated.
The final Forrest wrestler to medal was senior Nikolas McGuiggan, who came into the state tournament as the Region 3A/AA champion at 220-pounds.
After a first-round bye, McGuiggan got off to a rough start when he was pinned by the eventual runner-up Grant Brace from Alcoa.
McGuiggan stormed back with a vengeance, winning back-to-back bouts to stay alive for a medalist position.
McGuiggan pinned sophomore Dylan Stinnett from Pigeon Forge in the second period to clinch one of the top six spots and next up for McGuiggan was Toby Lynch from Greenbrier as the two Region 3A/AA grapplers would be in for the region title tilt re-match which McGuiggan had one won the week prior at Montgomery Central.
"Nik had a tough day on Friday, but came back last night and was totally different wrestler that fought his way back," Stacey said. "What an accomplishment for Nik, he had a good tournament."
After a scoreless first period, Lynch took a 1-0 lead on an escape and during the next several seconds, McGuiggan suffered a head injury and the bout was momentarily halted.
McGuiggan wanted to continue, but was not the same wrestler, losing 3-1 to Lynch.
It was determined by the medical staff on sight that McGuiggan (27-3) had suffered a concussion during the match and would not continue, ending up in a forfeit to returning state medalist Will Watkins from Boyd Buchanan in the fifth place match.
"Unfortunately that is not the way anyone wants to end their career, but the health of the kid is the top priority," Stacey said.
Freshman Seth McCoy also came in as the Region 3A/AA champion in the 160-pound weight class and got a pin over Jackson Hash from Red Bank in the first round, before suffering a fall versus Millington's Sean Srock in round two.
McCoy (45-6) bounced back with an 8-6 overtime victory over Trey Tanner from CAK before the Rocket grappler was eliminated from medal competition when he suffered a 10-3 loss to Eagleville senior Drew Gill.
McCoy won first place at Creek Wood and second place at the Mountain Top.
Senior Clay Watson and junior Billy Clanton both lost back-to-back matches and did not advance.
Watson finished the season with a 33-17 record and first place medals at Harpeth and Creek Wood, plus a second spot at the Mountain Top, while Clanton ended up 35-8 with first place at Harpeth and third place on the mountain.