Six other wrestlers place
With two seconds remaining in her match on Friday, Tullahoma’s Jane Allen was on the cusp of losing her semifinal bout at the TSSAA Individual State Championships in Franklin, trailing Creek Wood’s Shelby Zacharias 4-2.
While down, Allen wasn’t out. The Tullahoma grappler got a literal last-second takedown, forcing overtime where she dominated, winning 9-4, after a quick takedown and a near-pin. A day later, Allen controlled her finals matchup in the 170-pound division, winning 4-2 over Deyla Brito-Perez, capturing the state title.
That championship had been in the making all offseason for Allen. During the summer months, the THS senior traveled to several different camps in several different states, all with one goal in mind.
“I wanted to win state. That’s all I ever wanted to do,” Allen said.
After beating Brito-Perez in the finals matchup on Saturday, Allen couldn’t hold the tears back celebrating her achievement. Once returning to the sidelines, she celebrated with her teammates and coaches, all of whom were in attendance at the Williamson County Expo Center.
“It’s amazing. I worked so hard for this,” Allen said. “I worked all summer. I went to Indiana, North Dakota, Georgia and everywhere. This is what I wanted. It’s finally good to have that dream actualized.”
Her head coach, Jenna Morris, was all smiles after Saturday’s final matchup. In a celebration move, Allen was carried off of the mats piggyback style by Morris until the pair reached the sidelines.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of her,” Morris said. “If anybody deserved it, it was Jane, with her work ethic. I’ve been around wrestling for a long time. We even lived in Cleveland for the first part of our marriage. Wrestling is born and bred there. I still have never seen a more dedicated wrestler than Jane Allen – boys or girls.”
With Saturday’s state title, Allen is now a three-time state medalist. When the THS girls wrestling team began in the 2016-17 season, Allen was the first state medalist for the program, taking sixth in 2017. She improved on that position in 2018, finishing third overall. Allen is the second THS girl to win a state wrestling title, after Emily Gessler won one in 2009.
“She started with us from the get-go. She set the bar for the girls program,” Morris said. “Not only for where these girls need to be, but she set the bar too for what boys need to do in the offseason. [THS Boys Head Coach] Al [Morris] says that constantly. He tells the boys, ‘Look at Jane Allen. Look at her. That’s what you need to be.’ To have that leader to lead by action is going to be irreplaceable.”
During the title match, Allen took control early, leading 2-0 after the first round, after scoring a takedown with 15 seconds left in the period. Brito-Perez scored a takedown early in the second round, evening the score, but Allen grabbed a 3-2 advantage after an escape to take a 3-2 edge.
In the final period, Allen added the last points of the match. After starting from bottom, Allen was able to find a way to get an escape 22 seconds into the third period. From there, she avoided a takedown and held on for the 4-2 victory.
“She’s [Brito-Perez] the only person who had beat me all season, and I beat her two more times after that,” Allen said. “I knew what I had to do to check my legs. If I did that and stopped her from taking me down and pinning me, I felt like I would be able to win.”
A day earlier, in her semifinal matchup against Zacharias, Allen fell behind early in the first round after the Creek Wood wrestler scored a takedown midway through the period. Allen was able to get on her feet for an escape with three seconds remaining in the period, cutting her deficit to 2-1.
Midway through the second round, Allen was called for a penalty, allowing Zacharias to score another point, upping her lead to 3-1. Allen added an escape, making the score 3-2 entering the final period.
Early in the third round, Allen was once again called for a penalty, upping Zacharias’ lead to 4-2. At the last possible second, Allen scored a takedown, evening the score at 2 and forcing the extra period.
Allen dominated the overtime period. The Tullahoma wrestler landed a quick takedown, which then turned into a near-pin, as Allen went on to win her matchup 9-4.
“I had wrestled that girl earlier this year and only won by two points. So, I was very nervous because I came from behind and beat people who have beat me in the past,” Allen said. “So, I was worried that I might not making it to the finals and it was looking that way for a while. I was able to come back in the last second.
“In overtime, she was shoving me and I was trying to work my snaps like I usually do,” she added. “I wasn’t able to get what I am usually able to get, so at the end, it was do-or-die and I just threw something at her and it stuck. It was basically a lucky move, but I’m glad that it happened.”
Allen’s head coach added that the semifinal matchup with Zacharias was much more than your typical victory.
“I think that match was mental for her [Allen],” Morris said. “I knew she was going to pull through because I knew that she wasn’t going to give up. It was definitely mental for her. That girl almost beat her at McGavock earlier this year. Jane really hasn’t really struggled with anybody this year and hasn’t had anybody to give her a hard matchup. So, that girl gave her a tough matchup. Jane is definitely more technical and a much better wrestler, but it was a mental element.”
Allen opened her tournament on Friday morning with a first-round pin of Sale Creek’s Katie McNabb. Allen pinned McNabb with seven seconds remaining in the opening period, after already having built a 7-1 advantage.
Six Lady Wildcats win state medals
While Allen was the lone state champion, six other members of the Tullahoma High School girls wrestling team captured state medals on Saturday.
Katy Champion (140) took third overall for the Lady Wildcats. Meralay Baysin (190) and Kaleigh Royal (119) both finished fourth for Tullahoma. Destiny Shelton (103) placed fifth overall, while Haley Roberts (150) and Divine Desilets (112) both finished sixth.
“We are coming home with a few more [medalists] than what I expected,” Morris said. “That’s a great feeling to come back with all seven state medalists. Our board is going to fill up pretty quickly.”
In her third-place run, Champion saw her tournament open with a quick victory over David Crockett’s Kaitlin Doolan on Friday. Champion pinned Doolan in 39 seconds to advance to the semifinals.
Champion was upended in that semifinal matchup against Cookeville’s Maura Hart. Hart won by way of a 3-0 victory as Champion headed into Saturday’s consolation rounds.
On Saturday, Champion won back-to-back matches to finish third overall. Champion first pinned Sycamore’s Lilly Pendleton 53 seconds into the second round. She followed that with a late pin of Science Hill’s Carlie Brown, winning with 48 seconds left in the final period.
On Friday, Royal lost her first matchup of the state meet, after being pinned 24 seconds into the final round by Daniel Boone’s Isabella Badon.
Royal rallied and won back-to-back matches to nab fourth place. On Friday, Royal followed her loss by beating Science Hill’s Emma Wallen 29 seconds into the second round.
On Saturday, Royal won a tight 8-5 decision over Rossview’s Sarah Collins, advancing to the third-place bout. In that matchup, Royal finished fourth, after being pinned by Mt. Juliet’s Kaitlyn Lee with 36 seconds remaining in the third period.
In her state tournament run, Baysin opened her tournament with a third round pin of Science Hill’s Olivia Gasteiger. Baysin pinned Gasteiger 57 seconds into the final round.
In her semifinal matchup, Baysin was upended by Creek Wood’s Ariyanna Anderson with 53 seconds left in the opening round. Baysin went on to split her two matchups in the consolation bracket.
In her first matchup on Saturday, Baysin pinned Gibbs’ Alex Tate 54 seconds into the third round. In the third-place bout, Baysin finished fourth after being pinned John Overton’s Rose Gailah with 53 seconds remaining in the second period.
Shelton opened her state tournament with a first-round victory, after pinning Gibbs’ Kayla Sullivan with 21 seconds remaining in the opening period.
In her semifinal matchup, Shelton was defeated by Elizabeth Raper in the second round. Raper pinned Shelton with 54 seconds remaining in the period, sending Shelton into the consolation bracket.
In her first consolation match, Shelton was defeated by Siegel’s Kortney Brinkley, after being pinned 23 seconds into the second round.
Shelton bounced back with a victory in her fifth-place matchup over Gibbs’ Kayla Sullivan. In that bout, Shelton pinned Sullivan with 46 seconds left in the second round, finishing fifth overall.
Desilets saw her tournament open with a 9-1 major decision loss to David Crockett’s Taylor Roy on Friday. However, she was able to secure a victory in her next matchup, beating Clarksville’s Ariana Easterling by way of a 7-5 decision, guaranteeing herself a state medal.
Desilets dropped her final two matchups of the state meet, finishing sixth overall. On Saturday, Desilets was first defeated by West Green’s Kelsi Broyles by way of an 11-3 decision, before falling to Rossview’s Savannah Barefield 4-2.
Roberts opened her tournament with a victory over Warren County’s Allison Franco, pinning her 51 seconds into the third round. However, Roberts dropped three-straight matchups, finishing sixth overall in the state tournament.
In her semifinal matchup on Friday, Roberts was defeated by White House’s Taylor Whitehurst. Twenty-four seconds into the third round, Whitehurst landed a pin, knocking Roberts into the consolation bracket.
On Saturday, Roberts was defeated by Northwest’s Taylor Rickley, after being pinned with 59 seconds left in the second round. In her fifth-place bout, Roberts again lost her matchup, this time being pinned by Sullivan South’s Linnea Dabrescia with six seconds remaining in the second round.
Zach Birdsong can be reached by email at email@example.com.