After a marathon week by the Blackman High School wrestling team that included five matches in three nights, the Blaze advanced to the 2013 TSSAA State Duel Meet with a 55-12 win over Tullahoma in the Region 5 tournament Thursday night inside in Murfreesboro.
The Blaze jumped out early against Tullahoma, scoring five wins by pin fall to take a 30-0 lead in the overall score.
A team gets six points, if one of its wrestlers wins by pin fall. Tullahoma answered with a couple of wins of its own, but it was too little too late as Blackman finished the dual to take home second place in the region.
“It was either you win and go to state duels, or you lose and the season is over,” Blackman head coach Ronnie Bray said.
This will be the third consecutive trip to the state tournament for the Blaze.
But it wasn’t easy getting there.
They had to wrestle three matches Thursday night that started off against Siegel High School, followed by Wilson Central High School, and then finally, Tullahoma.
For some Blaze competitors, they had to wrestle in all three duels.
“We did not perform the way we wanted to, but now we want to prove a point that we belong with some of those teams,” Bray said. “Last year, we went 0-2 at the state dual meet, and we worked too hard to go 0-2, so we got to improve on that.”
Blackman started the night with a 57-19 win over local Siegel in the region semifinals. The Stars started off strong, but the Blaze put together a string of wins and took control of the duel.
Siegel won the first two matches with Zach Valdez (138) and Kyle Coder (145).
Blackman quickly answered with two pin falls wins of their own by Tyler Garrison (152) and Tyler Sells (160).
The match of the night was between Siegel sophomore Dustin Holmes (170) and Blackman sophomore Conner Helton (170).
Both wrestlers fought to a 3-3 tie after the three 2 minute periods.
The match went into a 1 minute, sudden death round, which also ended in a tie. Then, Holmes and Helton faced off in two 30-second periods to decide the match. Holmes almost had him pinned to the mat, but Helton hung on long enough to keep the scored tied.
After those periods were up, the referees got together and awarded Holmes two points. It gave Siegel the 5-3 overtime win. The loss woke the rest of the team up, and Blackman won seven out of the next eight matches to win the dual.
Those Blackman wins were by Sam Luker (220), Austin Wells (285), Dylan Coggins (106), Jacob Kimbrough (113), Javon Brown (182), Michael Brobeck (126), Jordan Kimbrough (120) and Jordan Ligon (132).
Deionte Ewing (195) won one for Siegel during Blackman’s run.
A few minutes later, the Blaze were on the mat again to battle against Wilson Central.
Blackman took a early 10-0 advantage, but the Wildcats won several matches in a row to take the overall lead.
Wilson Central wound up winning the dual, 50-16, and Region 5 title.
So, it came down to a winner-take-all match between Blackman and Tullahoma, which the Blaze won to advance to the state dual meet.
Now, the Blaze prepare for the state meet, which begins Friday, Feb. 1, at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin.
As of Friday, none of the matchups had been announced. But, Blackman is already preparing to get back into the training mode for the upcoming tournament.
“It’s going to take getting back in the practice room, working hard, and getting motivated from the Wilson Central loss,” Garrison said.