It pretty easy keeping up with Blake Ridenour’s record these days.
“He’s won every tournament he’s been in,” Maryville wrestling coach Mark Humphrey said. “He hasn’t lost a match.”
Ridenour, who wrestles at 140 pounds for the Rebels, enters tonight’s region team duals at South-Doyle an unblemished 42-0 as Maryville takes up defense of last year’s title.
The top seed in the six-team duals, the Rebels receive a first-round bye and will take on the Halls/Karns winner in the semifinals. William Blount’s Governors enter the duals’ No. 2 seed with a match with the Sevier County/South-Doyle victor standing between them and the finals.
Wrestling begins at 6:30 p.m.
Ridenour takes to the mat tonight as the state’s second-ranked wrestler in his weight class. Sixth at the state individual tournament at 130 a year ago, Humphrey said his charge has a year-round commitment to the sport. It could produce an historic finish next month in Chattanooga.
Former Rebel Landon Hall became the first Maryville grappler to reach the state finals two years ago, a feat he would duplicate last season. Ridenour is the kind of wrestler that could carry Maryville to the top step, Humphrey said.
“He eats up wrestling,” he said. “When you watch him wrestle, you know. I think Blake’s got a lot of confidence and thinks he can win it.”
For now, there’s the duals. Defending last year’s championship and advancing to the state duals Feb. 1-2 at Clarksville High School won’t be easy.
“We’re a little beat up right now,” Humphrey said. “We’ll have one or two out of the lineup. We’ll have to wrestle well to win it.”
That doesn’t mean they don’t have every intention of doing so, said Rebel 275-pounder Joshua Cantwell, a member of Maryville’s state champion football team.
“To be successful in wrestling is just as important,” he said.
It’s a formidable roster the Rebels are taking to Knoxville. Jeremy Hendricks, at 152 pounds, is on much the same hot streak as Ridenour, riding a 20-1 mark into tonight’s duals. Together, they pace a Maryville team coming off impressive showings its last two outings.
With Josh Frost, 125 pounds, Ridenour and Hendricks each claiming weight-class crowns, the Rebels swept to the championship of the William Blount Invitational earlier this month. They would follow it up with a second-place showing at the Halls Invitational, against a decidedly strong field, only a week ago. Ridenour and Hendricks both won their weight class.
The Governors were fifth at last weekend’s tune up. Senior Rian Burns, fifth at last year’s state individual tournament at 135, headlines a William Blount team that could make a run this evening. Like the Maryville’s Ridenour, Burns is hoping for big things in a month’s time.
“He’s got a really good shot at (the) state (individual tournament) at 140 pounds to medal,” William Blount coach Gary Thomas said.
Fellow senior Lee Schmidt, at 189, finished second at Halls last weekend and has really been turning up the steam in recent weeks.
Much like their cross-town rivals, the Governors won’t be at full strength tonight.
“This team has faced a lot of ups and downs this season,” Thomas said, “(but) each time we’re supposed to be down, we wrestle up.”
William Blount just missed the team duals a year ago, falling by two points to Science Hill in a wild-card qualifier.