By Thomas Sellers Jr.
COLLIERVILLE — Validation, redemption and perseverance took the mat numerous times Saturday night in the Collierville High School Gymnasium for the championship round of the Region 8 Wrestling Individual Tournament.
Three area wrestlers heading to State this week as Region champions illustrate those characteristics. Cordova’s Byron Smith is a tale of validation in the 120-pound divison. Go up 100 pounds, the story of Millington’s Jamario Erving serves as a lesson of perserverance.
And all season Bartlett’s Adrian Keeley has been the “big man” on campus going unbeaten in the 285-pound weight class. And on Saturday night he finally got a taste of redemption winning his first Region crown defeating Collierville’s Tres Ring 5-3 on points.
“This is the first time, I’ve come in second every other year,” Keeley recalled. “I just have to give God the glory — always.
“I’ve been wrestling for God all year and it’s really been on my heart,” he added. “And I just don’t want to give up again like I did last year.”
Keeley acknowledged last year at State he didn’t give his all in his final match. Along with his faith, friends and family, that thought has motivated him to go 45-0 this season.
“I hope I walk away either a State medalist or a State champion,” Keeley said. “My goal is State champion because that will be my ultimate goal to give God the glory. Last year I gave up in my last match and I don’t want to do that again — have that on my heart.”
Erving’s heart was set on proving himself in his senior year. Entering the year, Erving was low on the radar behind teammates like Luke Walker and Devante Robinson. Walker and Robinson were two of six Trojans who earned trips to State.
But the only Millington grappler to bring a championship back to Flag City was Erving.
“I’ve worked hard for this,” he said. “I can’t lie, this is like a dream to me. I’m hoping to get the big belt at the end of the year and going to State is just a dream. I feel great and really humbled.”
The “Big Belt” will be given out by the Millington coaches to the Trojan who make it the furthest at State. Erving will have to outlast Robinson, Walker, Luis Hernandez, Jaxon Cook and Scottie Thomas.
Smith and serveral of the Wolf Pack will be traveling to State this week. Smith is making his third trip as he wraps up his Cordova career. As a sophomore Smith didn’t place. Last year the 120-pound grappler took third.
“I want to win it this year,” he said. “It feels awesome to be a Region champ. I didn’t win it last year, I fell short. Coming back this year and pinning my opponent in the finals feels really good.”
Smith said coming into the tournament as the favorite didn’t bother him.
“I just go out there and wrestle,” he concluded. “That’s all I can do.”
Region 8 Results (All wrestlers listed below will participate in State Tournament)
106- First-place match, Nathan Carter (Cordova) defeated Travis Arthur (Houston) 20-3
Third-place match, Alex Carroll (Bartlett) defeated James Westmoreland (Bolton) 8-5
113- First-place match, Zac Sumner (Collierville) defeated Nicholas Carter (Cordova) pinfall first
Third-place match, Sheldon Green (MAHS) defeated Brittin Roedel (Houston) 7-3
120- First-place match, Byron Smith (Cordova) defeated Scottie Thomas (Millington) pinfall first
Third-place match, Mitchell Nguyen (Collierville) defeated Darrian Davis (Southwind) 10-5
126- First-place match, Cameron Hall (Arlington) defeated Alaa Shihadeh (Houston) 12-4
Third-place match, Taylor Dowden (Bolton) defeated Diego Scott-McCabe (Collierville) 6-2
132- First-place match, Sidney Blackwood III (Germantown) defeated Jacob Carter (Bartlett) pinfall first
Third-place match, Andrew Zarshenas (Arlington) defeated Matthew Richardson (Collierville) 10-4
138- First-place match, Alquane Edwards (Southwind) defeated Braun Stephens (Bartlett) pinfall second
Third-place match, Seth Williams (Collierville) defeated Michael Lineberry (Arlington) pinfall second
145- First-place match, Robby Goldshot (Cordova) defeated James McClanahan (Southwind) pinfall
Third-place match, Nathan Enzor (Arlington) defeated Collin Compton (Collierville) pinfall third
152- First-place match, Tyler Whitworth (Arlington) defeated Tyler Kennel (Collierville) pinfall second
Third-place match, Jaxon Cook (Millington) defeated Jimtarius Hampton (Kingsbury) 9-4
160- First-place match, Billy Rainey (Collierville) defeated Matt Wideman (Arlington) pinfall first
Third-place match, Jeffrey Houston (Germantown) defeated Kevin Reeves (Bartlett) 6-5
170- First-place match Derrick Tucker (Germantown) defeated Devante Robinson (Millington) 18-2
Third-place match, Cole Young (Houston) defeated Graydon Yoder (Collierville) 7-1
182- First-place match, Jordan Davis (Cordova) defeated Luke Walker (Millington) pinfall second
Third-place match, Essex Ramsey (Brighton) defeated Cameron Tarver (Colierville) 12-3
195- First-place match, Khristian Kellum (Germantown) defeated Jamarius Julious (Raleigh-Egypt) 9-5
Third-place match, Tyree Daniels (Cordova) defeated Luis Hernandez (Millington) 7-2
220- First-place match, Jamario Erving (Millington) defeated Tra’vis Williams (Southwind) pinfall second
Third-place match, Justice Houston (Germantown) defeated Alexander Tekle (Houston) pinfall third
285- First-place match, Adrian Keeley (Bartlett) defeated Tres Ring (Collierville) 5-3
Third-place match, Terrence Partee (Southwind) defeated Tres Edwards (Bolton) pinfall second