(TMP File Photo)
The Blackman High wrestling team looks to continue its five-match winning streak this weekend in Chattanooga at the Bash of the Bay meet.
Blackman will be tested once again in this event, which will include four other schools, including two from Alabama. Their opponents are Buckhorn and Arab from Alabama, Ravenwood, and the host Chattanooga Central.
“It will be a dual tournament (team vs. team) on Friday and an individual tournament on Saturday,” Blaze head coach Ronnie Bray said, adding he knows this meet will be another tough test for the team.
Earlier this week, the Blaze earned a No. 12 ranking in the latest Tennessee High School Wrestling Poll after a five-meet winning streak at the Brentwood Academy Duels on Dec. 21.
It was their final meet before the holiday break.
Currently, the Blaze are 15-3 on the season, and the team has not lost a match since Dec. 8 when it fell to McCallie 41-32. It was also the last time Blackman was ranked in the wrestling poll.
“McCallie was ranked pretty high, but for some reason our team did not get enough votes to stay in the poll,” Bray said. We’ve continued to work hard and have made our way back into the poll.”
This season, Blackman has received contributions from a host of wrestlers in all of the weight divisions.
Heading into this weekend, the Blaze have a total of eight athletes with at least 14 wins on the season. Three of them have at least 20 victories, including junior Tyler Sells (25-2) in the 160 pound division, junior Jevon Brown (22-5) in the 182 pound division, and sophomore Tyler Garrison (22-4) in the 152 pound weight class.
Bray has looked to these three and several other key wrestlers to step into leadership roles because the Blaze only have one senior on the this season’s team.
“Sells has been by far our best leader,” Bray said. “He has not lost to anyone from Tennessee and recently beat a four-time Alabama state champion.
Besides that trio, several other Blackman underclassmen have made key contributions to the team, including freshmen Dylan Coggins and John Olivieri, as well as junior Ayinde Bakari, who each have at least 15 wins in 2012-13.
The team wants to continue its winning ways before heading into conference action on Tuesday, Jan. 15, against La Vergne, Shelbyville and Siegel.
“They have also made it a point that we not only want to be good in our region, but we want to strive to be good in the state,” Bray said.
After this weekend's action, the Blaze begins their quest for a regional championship. They face some of their toughest tasks of the season against squads from around the midstate, including some here in the area.
“Wilson Central is probably one of the better teams in Middle Tennessee and our biggest rivals,” Bray said. “In Rutherford County, Siegel and Oakland are working hard and doing a great job. Coach Mark Gonyea at Smyrna is rebuilding their team and are up and coming as well as Riverdale.”
Like in all sports on the high school level, the Blackman wrestling team has a couple of goals it wants to reach at the end of the season.
“We want to win a regional championship and to place in the top five in the state,” Bray said.