With designs on another state championship, the Father Ryan wrestling team is geared up for a late-season push in the Ryan Invitational tournament.
The event, one of the most prestigious wrestling events in Nashville, opens Friday at 4 p.m., following weigh-ins, at the Irish Gym. Action continues through the latter rounds Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Finals are currently scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, possibly earlier to beat any inclement weather for teams’ trips home.
Some of the top teams include Ryan, which won its 17th state team championship last year, along with DII powers Christian Brothers, MBA and McCallie, with strong area DI teams Franklin, Brentwood High and Mt. Juliet and Hendersonville in the mix. There are 26 teams competing (assuming all show due to the weather).
Ryan is ranked No. 2 in the Tennessee High School wrestling poll (behind Bradley Central) and is the top-ranked Div. II team. Christian Brothers and McCallie are ranked third and fourth, while Brentwood is No. 11. Ryan finished second in last month’s McCallie Invitational behind only Georgia power Pope High of Marietta, Ga.
“We have some really good teams coming,” said veteran Ryan Coach Pat Simpson. “If you want to see some really good wrestling, you need to be at Ryan this weekend.”
Simpson’s squad is headed by defending state champions, senior Cory Norcross (285 pounds), senior Wes Wesley (171) and sophomore Cole Mosley (103).
Some of the top Irish newcomers are Anthony Simpson (119) and freshman standout Mark Marchetti (125), younger brother of state champ Patrick, who has graduated.
Last year, the Irish took home the Ryan title with 248½ points, beating out McCallie which had 231½. CBHS had 202 and Brentwood Academy had 171,
In the state last year Ryan edged Baylor for the team title, 198½ to 194, but “we have beaten Baylor in every meet we’ve faced them in so far,&rdquo Simpson said.