BY BRYCE PHILLIPS, Elizabethton Star
It has been another productive year for the Elizabethton High School wrestling teams.
This weekend, the Cyclones will be sending nine grapplers to the TSSAA State Wrestling Tournament at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center in Franklin.
On the boys’ side of the mat, the Cyclones will have a school-record eight wrestlers heading down to the state matches after their performances at the recent individual region match at Greeneville High School.
The best performance was from Elizabethton’s Kilroy Hill who took first in the 152 weight division.
In the championship bout, Hill pinned Pigeon Forge’s Andrew Baiamonte at 28 seconds into the first round. With the win, Hill is now 37-7 on the season.
“I felt pretty good about the tournament as a whole,” said Hill. “I didn’t act wild like I normally do. I didn’t do anything crazy. I slow played it. I was really focused on technique.
“I took off with a shot to start off,” added Hill about his championship win over Baiamonte. “He sort of blocked it off. I took another shot, and he caught me, but I flipped around. I heard his coach yelling, ‘Let him up.’ So I figured he was going to try and win by points. When he let me up, he left his legs open, and I went in for my shot.”
This week, Hill, along with his teammates, has turned his attention to the state matches which started today.
“There are going to be a lot of good people down there,” said Hill after Wednesday’s practices. “I have to really watch who I am facing, and I have to really keep mindset and focus on winning.”
Hill will be joined at the state meet by Hunter Morrell (113 pounds), Andrew Fontanez (132 pounds), Chris Taylor (182), Deuce Morton (195), and Joseph Kechter (285) who all took runner-up in their respective weight divisions at the region tournament. Also headingto state will be Holden Roaten and Heath Owens who took fourth in their divisions. Also, state bound will be Lady Cyclones Tyesha Thomas, who like Hill, also won the region title at her weight class.
“This is part of the steps that we wanted to take to make this program better,” said Elizabethton co-head coach Eddie Morrell, who coaches alongside Travis Pennell. “Right now, we are ranked eighth in the state, and we have the potential to do better than that. We could come home as a legitimate top ten team and build on that. If you think what we have done this year is impressive, just wait until next year.”