Five local wrestlers bring home state titles

High School Sports

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – Seven local wrestlers reached the state tournament’s individual finals. Five of them brought home titles, with Elizabethton junior Jonathan Morton capturing his second straight A-AA championship at 195 pounds.

Dobyns-Bennett juniors Tre Morrisette (160) and Jackson Hurst (145) and Science Hill senior Tyler Seeley (132) also took home titles in AAA, while David Crockett sophomore Avery Kibelbeck won a girls’ championship at 103 pounds. Hurst won a thrilling 7-6 decision in the final seconds.

Dobyns-Bennett’s Brennan Watkins lost in the 126-pound finals, as did Tyesha Thomas of Elizabethton in the girls’ 119-pound division.

Morrisette capped a stellar season in the 160-pound weight class Saturday by bringing home a state title. After cruising through his bracket with four consecutive first-round pins, Morrisette emerged from a tough battle with Oakland’s Dejon Glaster with an 11-7 decision.

After a scoreless first period, Morrisette went up 2-0 with a near fall. A Glaster escape, a Morrisette takedown and another Glaster escape made it 4-2 after two periods. Starting on the bottom in the third, Morrisette was called for stalling with 1:16 to go in the match. A Morrisette flurry started with an escape at 1:04 a takedown four seconds later and a three-point near fall to give him a 10-3 lead. Glaster escaped and took Morrisette down to make it 10-6, but a Morrisette escape sealed the win.

D-B head coach Wes Idlette said his whole team and his finalists, all juniors, “represent East Tennessee well. People know who we are and we’re not going anywhere.”

“For Tre to pin his way all the way up to the finals and have a great wrestler and just be dominant in that match is great for his confidence to move forward for next season.”

A potential state championship showdown with Science Hill senior Jared Harter — Morrisette’s foe in both the district and regional finals — never materialized. Harter fell in the winners’ bracket quarterfinals 8-1 to Cleveland’s Nate Schilling, then won three straight losers’ bracket matches. That put him in a rematch with Schilling, and this time Harter delivered with a 5-4 win to claim third place.

Two-time state medalist Seeley sliced through his first two opponents Thursday at 132, scoring pins each time in less than 45 seconds. After a quarterfinal 4-0 win, he stormed into the finals by pinning Wilson Central’s Riley Fort in the first round.

There, Seeley faced Rossview senior Ethan Moore, last year’s sixth-place finisher at 126. A Seeley takedown was all the scoring in the first round. Starting the second round on the bottom, Seeley managed a reversal midway through to lead 4-0, a score that stood up through the round.

Two minutes from a state championship and starting the round neutral, Seeley played it defensively, warding off Moore until drawing a stalling warning with 30 seconds left. Seeley then got more active and capped off the win with a late takedown for a 6-0 final score. No wrestler scored a single point against Seeley in his five matches.

“He knew what he needed to do when he walked in the room this weekend,” head coach Jimmy Miller said of Seeley. “He’s been right there on the cusp of taking the championship and had some ups and downs with previous tournaments.

“We lost to this kid earlier in the year … but Tyler’s a tough kid, scrappy kid, goes out there and knows he can win the match. Systematically he just puts things together and six minutes later he’s winning six to nothing and dominated the match from whistle to whistle.”

Hurst, who placed fourth at 138 last year as a sophomore, pinned his first opponent at 145. He then won three straight decisions by a combined score of 23-2 to reach the finals.

There, Hurst tangled with Rossview senior Thomas Williams, last year’s fourth place finisher at 132, in the tournament’s final match. After giving up two takedowns and escaping twice, Hurst entered the second round down 4-2.

Williams then reversed Hurst after starting on the bottom and finished the second round leading 6-2. A penalty at the beginning of the third and an immediate Hurst escape made it 6-4. Williams was then received a one-point penalty for his second stalling infraction, but only nine seconds remained and the score was 6-5. Hurst scored a takedown as time expired and Dobyns-Bennett had its second champion of the night.

“Jackson is a wrestler that’s never out of the match, it doesn’t matter what the score is,” Idlette said. “He just keeps going 100 percent every match, and it showed right there going literally to the last second.”

Watkins, who placed fourth at 113 pounds last year as a sophomore, pinned his first opponent before winning progressively closer decisions to reach the final. He defeated Rossview’s Samuel Shires in a 5-3 sudden victory (one-minute overtime) to secure a match with defending state champion Trae McDaniel, who won it all at 106 in 2019.

McDaniel got a takedown in the first but gave up an escape, then stretched his lead to 5-2 with an escape and takedown after starting the second round on the bottom. Another takedown in the third by McDaniel gave him a 7-2 lead he wouldn’t relinquish. A penalty with 30 seconds left and a reversal in the waning seconds left the final score 7-5.

Harter, Mann, Frye all medal for Toppers

Along with Harter, Braxton Mann finished third for Science Hill at 138. The junior, last year’s state runner up at 126, scored a technical fall and two pins to reach the semifinals. After a 4-3 loss to Wilson Central’s Alan Fort, Mann won two decisions to claim the bronze, decisioning Jefferson County’s Landon Fisher 9-3 in the third-place match.

Senior Joseph Frye also placed for Science Hill. Frye, who had finished 5th at 145 pounds last year, repeated that showing at 152. Frye collected two first round pins before narrowly losing to eventual state champion Mason Smith of Beech, 4-2. Frye won two one-point decisions in the losers’ bracket, was pinned by eventual third-place finisher Robert Laxton of Cleveland, then finished his tournament by pinning Amange Abdurrahman of John Overton.

Crockett’s Kibelbeck brings home girls’ gold

The girls’ tournament saw David Crockett sophomore Avery Kibelbeck scored three straight pins at 103 pounds. She defeated Cookeville’s Elizabeth Raper in the final.

Elizabethton junior Tyesha Thomas repeated a runner-up finish at 119 pounds. She scored two pins before dropping the final to Clarksville Academy’s Annalynn Rakett in an 8-3 decision. Also at 119, Science Hill junior Emma Wallen finished fourth.

After falling to Thomas in the semis, Wallen won her first losers’ bracket match, then lost a decision to Tullahoma’s Divine Desilets in the third-place match.

Crockett also medaled at 125 with junior Addie Stadler winning a fifth-place match over McMinn County’s Autumn Brazzell.

Science Hill added a sixth-place finish by junior Andrea Benitez-Alvavad at 140. Teammate Olivia Gasteiger bounced back from a first-round loss to claim fifth place at 150.

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