Bradley Central had five wrestlers compete in the prestigious 25th Annual NHSCA National High School Wrestling Championships and two came home from Virginia Beach, Va., as All-Americans
TSSAA state champions Toribio Navarro and Knox Fuller became the first Bear wrestlers to earn All-American status' at a recognized National tournament since 2008.
TJ Hicks, Ryan McElhaney and Josh LaCoe also competed last weekend and won matches in their respective weight divisions.
"We are extremely proud of these five Bears for sacrificing their spring break and traveling to find the best competition they can,” commented Bradley head wrestling coach Ben Smith. “They all competed hard, with pride and intensity.
“The character they have off the mat and their work ethic on the mat are helping to recultivate the winning tradition that Bradley has always had,” Smith assessed. “Toribio and Knox earning All-American status is a huge step forward for their individual careers, and our program in general. Hopefully the rest of our team, and future Bears coming in and up, will follow suit with the same dedication that these guys have. Overall, it was a solid weekend for these young Bears."
The Tennessee state champ at 120 this past season, Fuller competed in the Freshman Division at the same weight class. His bracket had 67 entries and he went 5-3 (1 pin, 4 regular decisions) for the tournament to finish in sixth place, earning him a nationally recognized All-American status. Fuller’s wins were over opponents from Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia (6A state runner-up), and New Mexico (state runner-up).
With back-to-back TSSAA state titles under his belt, Navarro competed in the Junior Division at 113 pounds. His bracket had 65 entries and he finished 4-3 (1 major decision, 3 regular decisions) for the tournament, finishing in eighth place to earn him All-American status.
Navarro defeated an all-state wrestler (5th place) from New Mexico, a New York state qualifier, plus a pair of state runners-up from North Carolina and Florida.
Hicks competed in the Freshman Division at 106 pounds, finishing with a 3-2 record (1 pin, 2 regular decisions). His wins were over wrestlers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina. His bracket alone had 126 entries. He recently won the Battle in the Dome Southeastern Folkstyle Championship at 100 pounds.
McElhaney competed in the Freshman Division as well at 113 pounds. There were 67 entries in his bracket and he finished his tournament with a 2-2 record (1 pin, 1 regular decision). His two wins were over wrestlers from Virginia and Arizona. He was also the Class AAA TSSAA 106-pound state runner-up this past season.
LaCoe competed in the Sophomore Division at 120 pounds. He was in a 90-man bracket and went 1-2 for the tournament with a pin over a Maryland opponent. LaCoe was the primary back-up to Fuller and Hunter Parker this past season and is positioning himself for a possible starting spot for the upcoming 2014-15 season.