FRANKLIN – Saturday was a banner day for Greeneville wrestling as four Greene Devils brought home state championships, and two of those put themselves among some truly elite company.
Senior Morgan Lowery (195) got the exciting night started by winning a state title that he has been in pursuit of for a long time. Sophomore Colin Dupill (120) then left little doubt about his dominance while earning his second gold medal. Then in the final two matches of the night seniors Hunter Mason (145) and Colin Dupill (152) soared into rarified air by becoming four-time state champions.
“Four state champions is a great day by anybody’s standard,” Greeneville coach Randy Shelton said. “They all wrestled extremely well. None of their matches were ever in doubt. As a coach it’s nice to just be able to sit back and watch. You train them to do that, and its nice to see it all come together here.”
Mason and Colin Dupil became the 22nd and 23rd wrestlers in state history to become four-time state champions, and among public school wrestlers they are just the eighth and ninth wrestlers to achieve the feat. Last year Kodiak Cannedy became Greeneville’s first four-time state champion. Caleb Uhorchuck of Signal Mountain’s also won his fourth state championship on Saturday.
Mason and Dupill became the first public school teammates to become four-time state champions in the same year.
“There are barely 20 total people in the history of the state to win four state championships,” Shelton said. “Its such a hard thing to do, and for us to have two in one year and three in the last two years is unbelievable. It goes back to the hard work and time these kids put in. They set goals early, sometimes back in fifth or sixth grade. Then it takes some luck as well. A flu bug or a hurt shoulder can take that away so easily. Putting together four perfect tournaments is very impressive.”
Bradley Central is the only other public school with multiple four-time state champions, with two.
Mason has had the goal of being four-time state champion ever since he first took the mat for the Greene Devils. It has taken a rare form of dedication and commitment to his craft to become the elite wrestlers that he is, but after Saturday’s win the feeling of pride was evident with the future the Virginia Tech Hokie.
“It feels really good to get this win, I still don’t know that it has hit me yet this was my last high school match, but it feels great to finish with win,” Mason said. “It feels great to be a four timer, we are the second and third guys in school history to do it. Being in the history books is pretty neat. I’ve had good training partners, good coaching and its been a lot of fun this year.”
Mason’s crowning achievement was no mere formality on Saturday as Sycamore’s Luke London took the attack the to him early, something many opponents across the state are fearful to do against the Devils’ top wrestlers. London’s courage was not enough though, as Mason’s quick maneuvers and brute strength allowed him to build a 17-4 lead before he finished off his high school career with a pin with just 19 seconds remaining.
“It felt great to end it with a pin,” Mason said. “I faced him in the finals last year and took a tech fall. He came out tough, but it felt good to finish strong and get that last-minute pin.
For his efforts over the weekend Mason was selected as the Class A State Tournaments Outstanding Wrestlers.
“It feels very good to get this award, honestly I didn’t think I would get it,” Mason said. “I’ve wanted it the last few years, Kodiak got it last year, so it feels good to keep it at Greeneville. I wrestled my heart out, and I’m really am glad that I got this.”
Colin Dupill joined the Devils’ program last year as a junior with two Virginia state championships already under his belt. He fit in quickly and immediately became partners in the wrestling room with Mason. They challenged each other daily, and Dupill credits the way the two have pushed each other with the level of dominance they have been able to achieve.
“I’ve helped him, and he has helped me get to where we are,” Dupill said. “We have been great partners and great friends. He has helped me with my defense and I think I have helped him with his speed. I think we have both made each other better. It feels really good to share this honor of four timers with him.”
Dupill, who has signed with South Dakota State, was in the control the whole way in his state championship match against Seth McCoy of Forrest. McCoy did his best to circle the mat and avoid a takedown for much of the first period, but Dupill was still able to take a 4-0 lead.
In the second period Dupill added six points to his total as he tried to wear down McCoy on the way to a 10-2 advantage. In the final segment McCoy seemed content to glue his stomach to the mat to avoid a pin as Dupill finished out the night with a 12-4 major decision.
“To finish my senior year with a state title feels really good,” Dupill said. “I feel like I’ve reached my goals and I was able to do what I wanted to do as a high school wrestler.”
While Dupill was excited to end his high-school career with his fourth state championship, he was just as excited to share the moment with his younger brother, Carson, who won his second state title.
“It’s really fun to do this with him,” Colin Dupill said. “To see him doing the same things I have done is really neat. It makes me so happy to see him achieve his goals. I love it. I think he is better than I was at that age, and I think he is going to do some big things.”
Not many wrestlers are frustrated after leaving the mat with a win in a state championship match, but Carson Dupill holds himself to an extremely high standard. He expects to win every time he straps on the headgear, but not only that he expects to dominate.
It took just seconds to realize that Dupill was going to win his state championship match on Saturday, because Fairview’s Henry Ribble showed quickly that not getting pinned was more important to him than winning. Ribble never took a step forward on Saturday and Dupill had to chase him all over the mat.
It was a great showing of respect for Dupill’s ability, but it also meant that Dupill did as much chasing as he did grappling before ultimately capturing a 16-5 major decision.
“It feels good to win, but I wanted a little bit more,” Dupill said. “It’s just hard when the other person doesn’t go on offense. I don’t know, he’s obviously a good wrestler, it just wasn’t what I wanted.”
As a two-time state champion Dupill everyone in the wrestling realm across the state is taking notice of the Greene Devil, but now his goals are becoming even loftier and he is focused on climbing further up the national rankings.
“I want to be top 10 in the country, I was really close last year,” Dupill said. “I was top 15, but now I want to take that next step. I want to be in the top three in these big national tournaments, and the Elite Eight is next month so I won’t be taking any break.”
Two years ago in Chattanooga Greeneville assistant coach Sid Mason watched Morgan Lowery place third in the state, and told him that one day he would be a state champion. On Saturday that prediction came true as Lowery finished on top of the podium at 195 lbs.
“The biggest thing was to get Morgan to believe in himself,” coach Mason said. “Morgan has always had all of the talent, but we had to get him to believe that he is as good as I believe he is. He just has a natural ability to wrestle. He understands the sport really well, and really has a feel for it. We’re just super proud of him, he put the work in and he earned this today.”
There may not have been anyone in Franklin on Saturday who winning a state championship meant more to than Lowery. A year ago he watched from the stands as he teammates had historic success, collecting four individual titles and the program’s first traditional state championship.
Lowery was on track to contend for a state title as a junior, but an elbow injury cut his season short. It was gut wrenching at the time, but then turned motivating as he went to work to get back.
“This win means everything,” Lowery said after his state title match. “This has been the dream since I started wrestling, and it just feels amazing. I’ve stayed up so many nights worrying about this day, but I made myself proud today. Last year at this time I was up in the bathroom in the corner crying, because I knew I should have been right here. It was so hard to watch, but now it just feels surreal to be here as a state champion.”
Lowery’s work was evident as he won his 100th career match in the state finals while downing Pigeon Forge’s Aiden Howard with a 10-4 decision.
Lowery was in complete control in the first two periods as he moved with precision on the way to a 7-1 lead.
“The game plan was to get him tired before I got tired,” Lowery said. “I wanted to push the pace, to show him I’m not going to wear down, and he eventually broke.”
Howard caused the Greene Devil faithful to collectively gasp in the first 15 seconds of the third period with a quick shot that sent Lowery to the mat. Lowery looked as though he might go to his back, but he adroitly maneuvered out of the hold.
Then with 16 left Lowery got a final take down to effectively secure his state title. He sat on top of Howard while grinning ear to ear until the closing whistle rang out.
“I kind of expected that at the start of the third, and I think that’s why he didn’t get any back points, because I saw it coming before he got me in a really bad position,” Lowery said. “He was a good opponent and it was good match. Those last couple of seconds felt amazing. Feeling the work pay off right there was such an amazing feeling.”
Greeneville’s Jenna Baines (107) came into the Girls state Tournament with state championship aspirations of her own, but she saw those slip away on Thursday.
She was able shed that frustration and fight her way back through the consolation bracket on Friday, before dominating on Saturday to earn a third place finish.
“I was a little disappointed after the first day, and I had to really dig deep and use what my coaches taught to come back and get the next best thing,” Baines said. “I worked so hard this year after finishing runner-up last year, but I think this is going to push me even harder into next year.”
Baines, a junior, was in complete control of her match on Saturday as she pushed Elesa Renken of West Creek all over the mat on her way to a 16-0 technical fall.
“I don’t really take a lot of losses, and when they happen it kind of jars me,” Baines said. “I knew I couldn’t sit back, and that I had to go get the win. I love this sport, and I love winning, mindset and mentality is the difference in matches like these.”