A big year is expected of Science Hill, which is coming off a third-place finish in the Class AAA state duals a year ago. Saturday was a chance to match up with other teams after long hours of going against each other in practice.
“We’re trying to get our kids on the mat as much as they can and to get some lungs in them,” Science Hill coach Jimmy Miller said. “We’re trying of beating on each other. November is a really long month for us.”
Science Hill had five kids win individual regional championships last season, including two-time champion Arthur James, who will compete in the 145-pound weight class this year. He is one of three wrestlers along with Denzel Medina (220) and Jesse Cross (heavyweight) who are adjusting to the gym after spending the fall on the gridiron.
James, as a 145-pound linebacker, was the leading tackler on the Science Hill football team this season, while Medina ranked second.
“Denzel, Arthur and Jesse Cross have all just come out of football so they’ve been in the wrestling room minimal days,” Miller said. “They aren’t ready just yet, but we’ll see how everything goes. The fact that Arthur at 145 pounds was the leading tackler on the football team, that shows the technique he has.”
Weston Brown (195) and Chase Diehl (160) also won regional wrestling titles last season, along with the now-graduated Cooper Williams and Nathan Wysong, who has since transferred to Cleveland.
Luke Story (138), Tyler Seeley (120) and Medina posted runner-up finishes last season, while a couple of other guys who weren’t at full strength Saturday are expected to contribute heavily for the Hilltoppers this season.
“Isaiah Ryans (152) is back and getting healthy after coming off an ACL injury back in March,” Miller said. “Jacob Morrell (170) is a little banged up and didn’t wrestle today, but he’s also coming back.”
James Kalogeros (182) was also key to Science Hill’s success a year ago, including a pinfall win which helped Science Hill defeat Tennessee High for the Big Seven Conference championship
Other big contributors this season could be sophomore Joseph Frye (132), who was a standout for the Johnson City Admirals Club in the AAU ranks, and freshman Braxton Mann (113). Other talented youngsters who will fill out the lineup are Hayden Bodo (106) and Jevelle Gillespie (126).
The Hilltoppers expect tough challenges locally after going back and forth with Tennessee High last season. Science Hill won the Big Seven title, lost to the Vikings at both the Region 1-AAA duals and individuals, and then had the last laugh by defeating Tennessee High for third place at the state duals.
Another challenge could come in the form of a youthful squad from Kingsport.
“We’re moving forward and seeing where we’re at,” Miller said. “Tennessee High has some really good kids and they’re going to put a good product on the mat. Dobyns-Bennett has a bunch of young, good kids. So, they might be something to handle, sooner instead of later.”
With the preseason finished, Science Hill has its official start to the season next Saturday in North Carolina.