Caleb Mackie is one of just eight wrestlers who emerged from the 106-pound field unscathed Thursday in the opening day of the TSSAA state tournament.
The Pioneer sophomore was able to win both of his matches, earning a spot in the quarterfinals which will begin Friday morning at 10 a.m. in Franklin. With a win Friday morning over Franklin sophomore Owen Gobel, Mackie would assure himself a top-six finish, putting him in firm contention for a medal.
Mackie made his move early in Thursday’s proceedings, topping Arlington freshman Kaleb Reaume 5-1 in the opening round. The win advanced Mackie into the round of 16 of the 30-wrestler field and into a matchup with Lucas Prewitt from Anderson County.
It was sheer domination in the second match. Mackie had a takedown late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, but it was only the start.
Mackie pushed his lead to 8-2 in the second period, then dominated the final period to win 15-2. Mackie had two near falls at the end of the last two periods, earning three points apiece.
Gobel advanced to the quarterfinals by pinning Aaron Waller in 58 seconds and taking down Cannon Mullins in an 8-2 match.
Thursday’s event featured 560 matches across 14 weight classes. Before the end of wrestling Friday, the brackets will be narrowed to the final six athletes in each class. The championship finals are set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Follow @sstandardsports on Twitter for updates of Friday’s matches.
Gillentine advances to Friday
Ike Gillentine refused to see his season end Thursday. The junior was able to avoid elimination by winning two of his three matches on the first day of the state tournament.
Gillentine got off to a good start Thursday, pinning Connor Callahan in just 85 seconds in his 182-pound division. His success didn’t last in the second round, where he was defeated 10-2 by Springfield senior Cooper Richards.
Knowing another loss would end a 30-plus win season, Gillentine took down Bearden senior Samuel Hensley by pinfall in the second round.
Gillentine will take on Arlington’s Chase Rozell early Friday.
Two Pioneers see season end
Alan Esparza and Noah O’Shields both suffered two losses in Thursday’s opening day in Franklin, ending their promising seasons on the mat.
Esparza (132 pounds) lost to Heritage’s Hunter Davis by pinfall in his first match, then fell in the second round of the consolation bracket. He defeated Sevier County’s Ian McGrane before his elimination.
Likewise, O’Shields was pinned early in his first match by Jared Harter, a senior from Science Hill who is one of the favorites in the 160-pound division. In his first consolation match, O’Shields defeated Aaron Pardo from Rossview 8-1, but fell to Wilson Central’s Anthony Pyron in the second round.
The good news for the Pioneers is three state qualifiers – Mackie, Gillentine and Esparza - will be back next season.