FRANKLIN – It has been a long time coming, but on Saturday afternoon Greeneville’s Morgan Lowery will finally get to step on the mat and wrestle for a state championship.
After an injury brought an end to a junior year in which Lowery had great expectations he has worked his way back to top form, and now he and three of his teammates will have a chance to bring state championships back to Greeneville.
“It feels like a lot of hard work is about to pay off,” Lowery said after Friday’s state semifinal win. “This is my last season, I’m really hungry for it, and I really want it. It’s been a battle to get here. I had to put in so much extra work, but right now that all feels worth it.”
In addition to Lowery (195) Greeneville’s Carson Dupill (120), Colin Dupill (152) and Hunter Mason (152) will also be competing for individual Class A State Championships on Saturday in Franklin at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center. The championship round will begin at 2 p.m. Central time.
As a sophomore Lowery placed third at the state tournament and going into his junior season he had high hopes of climbing further up the podium. That season was going as planned until an elbow injury in December ended it abruptly. Since that time Lowery has worked non stop to get back to Franklin, and now in the last match of his high school career he is on the cusp of achieving every prep athlete’s dream.
“It’s been two-a-day practices, lots of lifting, lots of conditioning. There’s not just one element, but so much has gone into this,” Lowery said. “I’m already feeling anxious, but as I get closer to mat I slowly begin to feel invincible. I just have to wrestle to my full ability. I feel like if I do that nobody here can beat me.”
On Thursday Lowery made quick work of his first two matches of the Class A State Tournament, earning pins in 21 seconds and 50 seconds, but on Friday in the state semifinals Green Hill’s Nathan Downey tested him as well as anybody has this season.
After one period on Friday Lowery held a 4-3 lead, and that lead did not grow much in the second period. Lowery led 7-6 in the second period until he found the right leverage to spin Downey onto his back, and with 28 seconds left in the period he forced his opponent’s shoulders to the rubber for a pin.
“That was a tough one, it’s the most I’ve been scored on this year,” Lowery said. “But it felt good to come out on top. I realized my conditioning was beating him, and I just waited on him to slip.
When Carson Dupill stepped onto the matt on Friday for his state semifinal contest he made sure to show the crowded arena that he was going to be force in the state for years to come. The sophomore who already has one state title to his name had to give chase to Page’s Nathan Simpson in the early seconds of his match, but once the Patriot was in his clutches Dupill was quickly on top. Then just 44 seconds after the starting whistle Dupill had pinned his opponent to the matt.
“It feels pretty great to be back in the state championship match,” Dupill said. “I try to dominate as much as I can when I come into a tournament. And after winning last year the goal has been to repeat. He was tough kid, but it felt good to get quick pin.”
The only person more excited about Carson Dupill advancing to the state title match for a second time may have been his older brother, Colin. For the second year in a row the brothers will have a chance to bring home state championships on the same day.
“I think I get more nervous for him than I do for myself,” Colin Dupill said. “It’s so fun to get to do this with him. Last year after he won his first state title I was crying for him. Seeing him do the same things I’ve done is just great.”
Colin Dupill customarily approaches his matches like a chess master, patiently operating three moves ahead as he lures grapplers into his traps and then making pay dearly for even the slightest of wrong move. On Friday it was quite a contrast in style to his opponent, Nikolas Taylor of White House Heritage, who at times most closely resembled Warner Brother’s Tasmanian Devil, spinning and flailing with a purpose that was not always clear.
Late in the first period Taylor’s wild antics led to Dupill being gouged in the eye. He wrestled the last 30 seconds of the period with his eyes closed, but still managed a takedown and a 9-3 lead.
“That stretch was little difficult because I couldn’t really see what I was doing, and seeing is a big part of wrestling. But I’ve been doing this forever and I know what my holds feel like,” Dupill said. “Today was just about taking my time and being patient. I knew I would score my points. It was just about waiting for the opportunities.”
In the second period that lead grew rapidly and Dupill advanced to the title match after a 22-6 technical fall.
On Saturday Dupill will have a chance to win his second TSSAA state title, and paired with his two state championships won in Virginia he could enter the rarified air of the four-timer club.
Ever since Hunter Mason arrived at Greeneville High School his dream has been to win four individual wrestling state championships, and he went to bed on Friday night knowing that his goal could be just hours away.
“I don’t know if it’s me yet,” Mason said after his state semifinal win. “I really want to win tomorrow and achieve that goal, but it’s a little bittersweet because I know my high school career will be over after that match. No matter what it will be my last match at Greeneville, but I’m feeling good and I’m ready to get it done.”
Mason, a Virginia Tech signee, has already won three state championships, but he came to Franklin this week looking to really make a statement and is hoping to be selected as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. He got his tournament started the right way on Thursday with two matches that lasted just over a minute. The clinic continued on Friday afternoon as he needed just 47 seconds to pin Pigeon Forge’s Ayden Hood.
“It feels good to be back in the state championship match and it feels good to be doing it with my teammates,” Mason said. “I really want to get OW this year, so I’m trying to get on and off quick, and hopefully that gets the attention of the coaches. I just try to approach every match the same. I look at it like that kid across from me is try to take my state title from me and I have to go get it from him.”
In the Girls State Tournament Greeneville’s Jenna Baines (107) took a disappointing loss on Thursday to drop out of state title contention, but she came back on Friday with a new fire and wrestled her way into Saturday’s third-place match.
Baines started her day on Friday with a pin of Rossview’s Adelynn Bess in 2:43. Then in Baines’ final two matches a switch seemed to flip as she left no doubt in a 32-second pin of Nolensville’s Elena Montpol and a 26-second pin of Seymour’s Elinor Underwood.
“We had a long heart-to-heart with Jenna last night, and to her credit she refocused herself,” Greeneville coach Randy Shelton said. “I think you saw in these last two matches that she is wrestling forward, into other girls, and is on absolute tear. I have no doubt that she will come back tomorrow and take third, and show everybody that she is ready for a big senior year.”
No other local wrestlers advanced to Saturday’s medal round, but a handful of others picked up wins on Friday.
In the girls tournament Greeneville’s Rhyne Johnson (100) pinned Millington’s Mallory Howard, but then fell to Clarksville Northwest’s Shyanne Michalski. In the second round of consolation matches Greeneville’s Allie Shelton dropped a 10-0 decision to Seymour’s Cresson Postelwaite after advancing through forfeit.
West Greene’s Macy Greenlee (235) started her day with a third-period pin of Stewarts Creek’s Ashleigh Williams, but was then pinned by Summit’s Samantha O’Leary.
In the Class A Tournament West Greene’s Hunter Gregg (170) won a 4-1 decision over Logan Baxley of Fairview. He was then eliminated by Ethan White of Greenbrier.
Greeneville’s Christian Feltner (285) started his day with a 11-1 major decision over Martin Luther King’s Malik Collins. He then pinned Cocke County’s Christopher Flockhart, but one match short of medaling he dropped a 6-1 decision to Marion County’s Keanun Cummings.