The Hilltoppers took home five individual championships from the Region 1-AAA individual meet to go along with three runner-up finishes. But the ’Toppers also left the Model City pondering the four and a half points that separated them from the team championship, which went to Tennessee High. The Vikings finished the weekend with 209.5 points to Science Hill’s 205.
“What a great weekend we’ve had,” said Science Hill coach Jimmy Miller. “Big picture –—did we come up short today? We did. We came up four and a half points short. I just challenged the kids to go home tonight after everything settles down, look at your bracket and find what you could have done to find four and a half points in your tournament.
“It’s not one man’s fault,” Miller continued. “We have to accept accountability. There are a lot of points we left on the floor today. It’s a good teachable moment.”
Once the finals started, Nathan Wysong got the Hilltoppers rolling with a pinfall victory over Tennessee High’s Judson McCray in the 120-pound weight class. Wysong, a sophomore, pinned McCray in 18 seconds and said setting the tone was the key to victory.
“I had to go out there and wrestle how I wrestle,” Wysong said. “It’s kind of like a card game — everyone has similar cards, you just don’t know which ones are coming when.”
For Science Hill’s Cooper Williams, Saturday’s regional title was especially sweet. The senior had never won a regional title and also had been tagged with a couple losses by Tennessee High’s Logan Ferguson earlier this season. But Williams broke through on Saturday with a 6-0 decision over Ferguson in the 132-pound finals.
Needless to say, there were no surprises when Williams and Ferguson faced off on Saturday, so Williams said efficient execution was the deciding factor in a competitive match between the familiar foes.
“You just have to be able to finish your moves,” Williams said. “You have to do what you’re good at. You have to complete all your shots. That’s the ultimate thing.”
Like Williams, Chase Diehl and Weston Brown were first-time regional champs for Science Hill. Diehl, a sophomore, picked up an 8-4 decision over Morristown West’s Griffin Simerly in the 160-pound class while Brown, a junior, claimed a narrow 5-2 decision over Dobyns-Bennett’s Randall Whisman.
Arthur James earned his second regional championship with a 4-2 decision over Tennessee High’s Bryson Henley. James, a junior, moved his record to 39-4 with the win in the 152-pound classification. Tyler Seeley (106), Luke Story (138) and Denzel Medina (195) were Science Hill’s three runner-ups.
While it will be easy for the Hilltoppers to wonder what might have been, Miller is more concerned with what will be for his young wrestling team. Science Hill’s squad will return mostly intact next season, so the teachable moments that presented themselves on Saturday and those that will pop up at the TSSAA Class AAA meet will help build a foundation for the future.
“We’re returning 11 out of 14 starters next season with a lot of good kids in the room,” Miller said. “So I’m proud as anything of these young men. They did great today.”