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D1 (A) Way Too Early Top 5


cowcatcher
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I published this last year during the spring and wanted to get others thoughts on next year. It’s never too early to get excited, and this year should be no different. I don’t know if I can remember a year where this many teams have a legit shot at winning. This is my top 5, but it doesn’t even include teams like traditional power Fairview, Tullahoma, Sycamore, and Gibbs who should all be good again next year. Who do you have in your way too early top 5?

#1 Greeneville

Returning starters: 9/14

Returning state qualifiers: 6

Key losses (4): Kodiak Cannedy (170lbs, 4x state champ), Leandre Dabney, Jr. (113lbs, ’20 state champ, 2nd in ’21), Malik Harris (132lbs, state qualifier), Ross Cornelius (195lb starter)

Key returners: Carson Dupill (106lb state champ, nationally ranked), Hunter Mason (145lbs, 3x state champ, nationally ranked), Colin Dupill (152lbs state champ, nationally ranked), Zac Crisman (3rd at 220lbs), Cooper Johnson (4th at 120lbs)

Coach Shelton’s squad is the defending traditional champion and returns 3 studs that are all state champs and ranked in the top 20 nationally. Zac Chrisman is coming off a breakout season and could be the guy to beat at 220 once February rolls around. The losses of Kodiak and Dabney hurt, but with Greeneville’s top end talent, they’re still the team to beat in the traditional tournament. Their success in duals will depend on the development of their guys not named Dupill, Mason, Crisman, or Johnson.

#2 Signal Mountain:

Returning starters: 12/14

Returning state qualifiers: 7

Key losses (1): Noah Shriner (2nd at 126lbs)

Key returners: JoJo Uhorchuk (2nd at 106lbs), Ethan Uhorchuk (113lbs, 2x state champ), Caleb Uhorchuk (120lbs, 3x state champ)

Signal finally broke through and won the program’s first state title last year with their upset over Greeneville in the duals. Houston Clements’ team loses a very talented Noah Shriner, but returns the trio of Uhorchuk brothers giving them the fire power to challenge the Devils in a tournament. I do believe this team is the favorite to win the duals again given how solid they are in each weight class. While they have a great dual team, I suspect their lack of placers outside of the Uhorchuks will prevent them from winning a traditional title.

#3 Pigeon Forge:

Returning starters: 10/14

Returning state qualifiers: 6

Key losses (2): Josh Parton (160lbs, ’20 state champ, 2nd in ’19 and ’21), Hunter Gentry (132lbs, 2x state placer)

Key returners: Andy Cable (126lbs, 2x state champ), Wyatt Howard (138lbs, 3rd), Aiden Littles (182lbs, state finalist), Caleb Wolfe (220lbs, 2x state finalist)

After a rocky regular season, no one was talking about Greg Foreman’s team last year heading into the post-season, but he proved once again why he is one of the best, if not the best, coach in Tennessee, as he took a down team for their standards within a few points of a dual title and still finished in the top 5 finish in the traditional tournament. Had Garrett Foreman and Parton been healthy last year, maybe we would be talking about this team as the defending champs. They have the studs to be considered a legit title contender going into next season.

#4 Knoxville Halls

Returning starters: 14/14

Returning state qualifiers: 9

Key losses: none

Key returners: Aiden Wright (106lbs, 4th), Sam Hutchison (132lbs, 3rd), Harlen Hunley (145lbs, 3rd), Briar Whaley (160lbs, 3rd), Bull Goodman (220lbs, 6th)

How often is it that you see a team in any sport at any level return every single one of its starters from the previous season? Shannon Sayne should be as excited as any coach in the state heading into next season with this experienced bunch. Halls will have the talent to beat anyone in a dual this season. In a perfect world, Hutchison, Hunley, and Whaley all make the finals next year, and this team will be right there with a chance to win it.

#5 Page

Returning starters: 13/14

Returning state qualifiers: 8

Key losses (1): Will Parcel (160lbs, 2nd)

Key returners: Thomas Brown (120lbs, 5th), Grant Hawkinson (132lbs, 2nd), Josh Ward (152lbs, 5th), Ronan O’Connell (285lbs, 6th)

Coach Gray’s team came within 1 match of upsetting state dual champ Signal in the first round last year, and they return all but 1 starter, which should give you all the evidence you need to know why the Patriots are poised to take the next step this year and make a run at a title. I feel like they will be on the outside looking in compared to the big 3 (G’ville, SM, PF) in a tournament unless they could get 3 finalists out of the four key returners mentioned above, but this team is as well coached as any and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to come out of nowhere like Signal did last year and win the duals. 

 

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Don't forget Morgan Lowery as a key returner for Greeneville.  He was injured much of last season, but if he's healthy, he will provide additional depth for that Greeneville squad.

Best thing for Division I A competition in traditional was the realignment.  I think you will find coaches express the sentiment that perennial small school powerhouses found it harder to place as many kids in years past and I think you will find perennial big school powerhouses found it easier to place more kids last year.  Nice balance, again IMO. 

The programs with kids putting in the spring and summer work will surely outshine the others come February and it takes more than 2-3 kids that are committed.  One program that appears to have a higher level of spring and summer commitment than other squads is Signal.

On another note maybe Shane can put together a televised D1A, D1AA and DII All Star dual the week after Individual States (yes I said states).

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1 hour ago, Ummmno said:

It will never happen. Ever. 

The top D2 wrestlers go to the National Preps the week after the D2 state tournament.  I also see absolutely no way that they want to return home from the national preps and participate in any All-Star match other than the Pittsburgh Press Classic or whatever they call in today.

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On 4/30/2022 at 8:51 PM, Biffmar4 said:

If someone put it together, I’d pay to watch it, just like I did the border brawl. I like what some of these guys are doing for wrestling in the state of TN. 

Go ahead and tell them...

 

Hey, if you do all the work of organizing and finding a venue and convince the kids to cut weight and train again after the season has ended for one maybe two matches that have zero implications, ill watch it. 

 

See how that works out. 

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LOL, the kids that would be representing each division don't generally stop wrestling, some do, most don't, so the weight thing wouldn't be a huge hurdle. 

That's why I brought Shane up.  He did a fantastic job with the Border Brawl and might have a gift as a promoter.  

And the implications for the wrestlers are that you get more regional exposure with college coaches on Rokfin, SEWrestle, etc.  Not only that, but you get quality mat time in most cases.  Oh yeah, and it would be fun.

If I did the work, I would ban you from watching!  :P 

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48 minutes ago, Biffmar4 said:

LOL, the kids that would be representing each division don't generally stop wrestling, some do, most don't, so the weight thing wouldn't be a huge hurdle. 

That's why I brought Shane up.  He did a fantastic job with the Border Brawl and might have a gift as a promoter.  

And the implications for the wrestlers are that you get more regional exposure with college coaches on Rokfin, SEWrestle, etc.  Not only that, but you get quality mat time in most cases.  Oh yeah, and it would be fun.

If I did the work, I would ban you from watching!  :P 

You can rationalize it all you want in your head but I'm telling you, it will NEVER happen. Never. 

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On 4/29/2022 at 10:09 AM, Ummmno said:

It will never happen. Ever. 

Keep the state tourney 3 days.  Run the individual tourney Thursday and Friday and the duals on Sunday.  Would be fun to watch and then we can see who the best is instead of just talking about it every year. 

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11 hours ago, Mason422 said:

Keep the state tourney 3 days.  Run the individual tourney Thursday and Friday and the duals on Sunday.  Would be fun to watch and then we can see who the best is instead of just talking about it every year. 

You guys are all way too ambitious. It will never happen. We'll be lucky if they ever fix the scheduling issue they had this year. We may be stuck with that for the next foreseeable future.

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