As the high school wrestling season draws to a close, Warren County will once again be well represented at the TSSAA state wrestling championship in Franklin this weekend as three Pioneers have earned their way to the finals.
Though Warren County has had numerous state contenders over the years, 2016-17 sets several new precedents for the Pioneer wrestlers in the modern era.
For the first time Warren County will send two girls to the annual spectacle, and both are poised to bring home a medal. If successful, the girls will set a Warren County record by being the first two competitors to bring home state medals for the Pioneers in the same year.
Senior Hollie Yokley is a top Warren County prospect to win a state title. Yokley enters the tournament at the second seed having already earned season victories over all but one competitor in the field. The girls 130-pound weight class has been narrowed to just eight out of several hundred in the state.
Yokley has already set four career Pioneer records as she became the highest medaling Pioneer in the team’s history with her third place finish in 2016. She is also the first Pioneer to earn two state medals as well. When you combine her 4th place finish in 2015, she is the first Pioneer to earn three consecutive region medals with a fourth-place finish in 2015, a first-place finish in 2016, and a second-place finish this year. Finally, she is the first Pioneer to represent Warren County in three consecutive state tournaments.
Yokley will be accompanied to the tournament by sophomore Allison Vasquez, who punched her ticket to the grand event in her second year of wrestling. Voted most improved Pioneer wrestler by the coaching staff and key fans, Vasquez enters the eight-competitor field at the No. 5 seed.
Riding a wave of decisive victories at the region tournament, Vasquez looks to make an impact on the state scene and add her first state medal to her growing collection of tournament trophies.
Not to be outdone, the Pioneers boys team will also be sending a representative to Franklin to hunt for gold. Senior Mario Hernandez will culminate his career by competing at state. Whereas the girls had to beat out hundreds of other competitors, Hernandez has clawed his way out of thousands to compete this weekend.
Hernandez fought a long road at last week’s regional tournament losing early and fighting his way back through the consolation bracket to eventually face the No. 1 seed for the invitation to state. Shortly after the opening whistle, Hernandez was able to claim a quick victory and realize a four-year dream of making it to state.
The Pioneer grapplers will begin competition Thursday evening at the Franklin County Ag Expo Center in Franklin. The tourrnament will continue throughout the weekend with the championship culminating on Saturday.
The tournament is open to the public. You can also watch every match of the TSSAA state wrestling tournament online at http://watch.nfhsnetwork.com/tennessee-wrestling/