By Maurice Patton
It’s easy for Pete Miller to say postponing the state wrestling tournament a week – as the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association announced Monday – is not a ‘concern’.
“I’m not one of the ones having to hold my weight,” the Summit coach said after the TSSAA rescheduled the three-day event, originally set to start Thursday, for Feb. 24-26 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
The decision was based on the expectation of continued inclement weather as this week progresses, making travel for teams from across the state a challenge.
“A significant portion of our state has been impacted by snow and ice making travel extremely hazardous and, in some cases, impossible,” TSSAA officials said in an afternoon release.
“Temperatures in Middle and West Tennessee are not expected to reach freezing over the next couple of days so it is unlikely that conditions will improve this week. Additional ice and snow is in the forecast for these areas on Wednesday and Thursday, which makes it very likely that many participating schools would not be able to attend.”
As rescheduled, the Class A/AA tournament will take place on Feb. 24, followed by the Division II and girls tournaments on Feb. 25 and the Class AAA event on Feb. 26.
Summit 103-pounder Nevaeh Brinson and the Independence trio of Rylee Lent (103), Baylee Peterson (125) and Brooklyn Long (140) will be in action on Feb. 25, with a total of 13 wrestlers from Independence, Spring Hill and Summit slated to compete on the final day.
“They’re making us be patient,” said Miller, who advanced nine – seven Region 7-AAA titlists and two runners-up – into the tournament. “I don’t think it’s a concern. I think we continue the process of what we’ve done, fine-tune, heal up, and don’t overanalyze.
“I completely understand the call. At least we’re going to have a state tournament.”
Staying on weight and in condition is a concern Spring Hill coach Beau Moss expressed for 120-pound senior Isaiah Brooks – especially considering the starts and stops that the Raiders endured over the course of their pandemic-plagued season.
“We were kind of getting into a groove, a set routine,” Moss said. “Breaking that routine or cycle worries me. The positive might be that we get that much more conditioning in, that much more work, so maybe that’ll even out.
“I guess that’s the unknown for everybody. We’ll adjust and have as much practice time with him as we can. We’re ready to go regardless, but that was a curveball the weather threw at us.”
Prior to the announcement that the tournament would be postponed, tournament brackets were posted. Brooks will open against Wilson Central senior Thomas Borders, a two-time state champion and a three-time medalist at 113.
Meanwhile, Summit 120-pounder Jackson Masters – one three Spartan wrestlers making their third state tourney appearance — will face Zachary Teaster of Heritage in the Round of 16.
Masters, his junior classmate Ryan Smith at 285 and senior 138-pounder Austin Noll lead a contingent all looking for their first state medals. Smith has beaten two of the four returning state medalists in his bracket, Oakland’s Graham Keating and Wilson Central’s Jesse Richardson.
“We’ve got nine guys that haven’t placed, but nine guys that are champing at the bit to prove themselves,” Miller said. “We’ve just got to step up and continue to do what we do.
“We’ve got guys that focus on match No. 1.”