Heading back to state: Heritage, Rebels open state duals Friday
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The election is over. The Mayan Calendar has run out of days. But the Maryville and Heritage wrestling squads are right back where they were last year, no matter what else has changed.
After winning their respective first matches last week at the Region 3-AAA Duals, the pair punched their tickets for a return to this weekend’s state wrestling duals in Franklin.
The two-day, double elimination event opens Friday afternoon and continues into Saturday at the Williamson County Expo Center.
Heritage is making its first appearance in the event as a regional champion but has a tough first-round pairing with Blackman in the 4:30 p.m. opener. Maryville drew Collierville for its 6:30 p.m. first round match.
“It’s a pretty good draw, we’re a second and they’re a number one but it’s better than a No. 1 from Chattanooga or Nashville,” Maryville coach Mark Humphrey told The Daily Times. “In the years we’ve been to state we seemed to draw Cleveland or Bradley about half the time.”
On paper at least Region 3 seemed to have earned a bit better seeding in the field than last year.
That may not be just the luck of a draw either for the two schools from Blount County.
“We won 1 out of 3 Heritage won two last year, I think it helped our region get better seeding this time.
The fact Heritage won two matches last year may have helped us both in the seeding, but I don’t know for sure about the criteria they used,” Humphrey said.
Heritage has been ranked in the polls above Blackman but the Mountaineers still get a team showing up in the state polls for the first round.
“Blackman is definitely going to be a tough battle,” Heritage coach Jerry Teaster said.
“We’ve done a lot more conditioning this week keeping stamina high and working on mental focus. These kids have gotten really close and know what we’d have to do.
They work for us and do as we ask. They really respond in matches and are aware of what they have to do to and they score their points.”
Heritage has only dropped four dual matches this season and several of those came during the holidays when part of the team was missing or injured.
The one that could come in to play in Franklin would be a potential semifinal pairing against Cleveland should both schools win their first two.
“We lost to Cleveland by 16 but we learned a lot from that and our guys learned a lot of things individually in that match, Teaster said. “That’s part of the mental focus, we know it’s one match at a time to even get there and that’s how we present it.”
Maryville matches up evenly with its first-round opponent in Collierville but even a first-round win has a hurdle ahead at the second round matchup would pit the Rebels against the winner between Science Hill and Soddy Daisy.
“We havent changed anything, we have no idea what type of wrestlers they are, they haven’t wrestled anyone from this area,” Humphrey said of the first-round pairing. “I can look up records but we don’t know their moves or anything. We’ve been working just like we’ve been working all season.
“I don’t if it will translate down there but we’ve probably had the three best days of practice we’ve had all year. That might be good, might be bad.”