Five Cyclones, paced by Ross, Potter, qualify five for state

By Kim Richarsdon
STAR Correspondent

   BRISTOL--The wrestlers of Elizabethton were small in number, but very big in heart and determination at the regional championships held this weekend at Vance Middle School on Friday, and concluded at Viking Hall throughout Saturday.
   Zack Potter came oh so close to winning an individual championship for the Cyclones. In fact, most everyone in the audience felt for just a brief moment that Potter had actually won his sudden-death, overtime showdown.
   The match went into an extra period, when after regulation it was all tied up with one point each; one escape point to be exact.
   Ironically, it was an escape point not awarded that set off the mild controversy as Potter appeared to remove himself from his opponent's grasp just before being pushed out of bounds.
   His opponent was still obviously inside the out-of-bounds circle after Potter broke free. Had the referee ruled in Potter's favor, he would have won the match, two to one.
   But it wasn't to be. And seconds later Potter would find himself on the losing end, via takedown, to the new regional champion from Jefferson County.
   "Well, it was certainly close," said Coach Potter, "but there were so many close calls throughout the day. I'm disappointed, yes, and I'm sure Zack is disappointed as well. But it's on to Chattanooga, and we'll see what happens there."
   John Ross was the other runner-up for Elizabethton, but it was much closer than most expected.
   "I'm disappointed, yes," said Ross. "Hey, he's very good, and he should be given credit for that. I'm honored to have done so well against probably the best wrestler in our region, and second-ranked wrestler, in our class, in the entire state.
   "But after coming so close, almost getting the pin, and almost getting the three back points, yes it's disappointing."
   Patrick Jenkins finished third in the region.
   "I feel that I probably wrestled my best match ever," said Jenkins. "I kept moving throughout the contest. I'm just so proud of our team, not so much that we won or lost today, but that we've worked so hard, and we've come so far."
   Mitch Cornett also finished third in class. For those that aren't very impressed with a consolation round finish, think again. The very best wrestlers in our region took part in this weekend's contest, and to finish in the top four means a trip to Chattanooga, and a chance to wrestle for the state championship.
   Tyler Ross also qualified for state finals with a fourth-place finish. Ross was, "reasonably pleased, yes, but I almost had him pinned, almost did it."
   It was that kind of day. There were enough almosts to fill Viking Hall -- so many near-pins, near takedowns, near escapes. It's hard to watch. It must be even more difficult for the parents.
   Elizabethton's assistant coach Adam Wilkin was very proud, yet a little disappointed for some of his competitors.
   "We had some kids improve by leaps and bounds," said Coach Wilkin. "So many of them were so much better today than in seasons past, and in recent weeks for that matter."
   "Chizmar (Justin) -- wow, he's come so far," continued Coach Wilkin. "The last time he fought the guy that he nearly beat today, the guy pinned him in no time flat. That's just one example of the tremendous improvement on this team."
   Others that almost made it?
   "Well, there's Jarrett Taylor; he was there until the bitter end," Wilkin said. "He almost advanced to the semis. He'll work hard, he'll get stronger, and I think he can be special for us next season."
   "Zach Gilliam is another one who is much improved. Again, it's just a matter of getting stronger, which I'm sure he will take care of. He and all of the younger guys, they're very hard workers."
   "Corey Henson is vastly improved. He almost won Friday," Coach Wilkin said. "He needs more work, and he will work; they all will."
   So it's on to Chattanooga. The Cyclones will take five of their finest: The Ross brothers, Patrick Jenkins, Zack Potter and Mitch Cornett. They are to be congratulated. Their teammates and those who have supported, coached and financed them all these years are to be earnestly thanked.
   What they collectively have done this season has been nothing less than outstanding.