It was all going wrong for Devan Teaster.
The Heritage High School sophomore suffered a bloody nose in the opening seconds of his championship match with William Blount’s Jacob Holley at the Region 2 wrestling tournament last weekend at Gibbs.
Teaster’s headgear, troublesome throughout, slipped off more than once and had to eventually be taped into place.
In the third and final period, Holley held a 4-2 lead with time running out.
None of it, as it turns out, would matter.
Teaster rallied to extract a win in the title bout at 125 pounds. With the win, Teaster became only the second region champion in school history, punching his ticket to this weekend’s state meet.
Joining the gritty, young Mountaineer at Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena are William Blount’s Alex Holley, region champion at 130 pounds, and Maryville’s Blake Ridenour, who stormed into the state meet with a 60-second, first-period pin of Micah Bolden of Halls for 152-pound region crown.
Also making the trip are Heritage’s Nathaniel Molina (135 pounds), Maryville’s Matt Shock (119), Chris Miller (160), Tyler Wilson (215) and Shawn Morgan (285) and William Blount’s Josh Jackson (112), Jacob Holley and Derek King (135).
The state meet began with the round of 32 on Wednesday, with the semifinals scheduled for this evening at 6 p.m.
Finals are scheduled for Friday at 6.
Ridenour represents Blount County’s best hope for a state wrestling crown in more than 40 years. The Rebel senior, third at state a year ago, is unbeaten at 39-0 entering high school wrestling’s grand finale.
Ridenour became a four-time region champion with his victory last week. The state’s top-ranked 152-pounder has yet to yield a point to an opponent from Tennessee this season. Alex Holley, the lone Governor to secure a region title, is a senior and knows the ropes at state well.
While Teaster is making his first trip to the big show, it would be a mistake to count him out, Heritage coach Phil Cottrell said.
“I’m taking my suit and tie,” he said, “with the expectation of (Teaster) being there in the championship match.”
A bit much to ask of sophomore?
Not really. Teaster is more than tough enough.
The 5-foot-5 Mountaineer said he became interested in wrestling when he got tired of getting picked on at school. He even went so far as to join the school’s football team, where his reputation as a big hitter is no joke.
“I like rough things,” he said. “People were always jumping on me before I started wrestling.”
Teaster never missed a beat after his nose began to bleed early in the first period of the championship match with Holley.
“When I shot, he crossfaced,” Teaster said, “but I wasn’t going to let (the bloody nose) bother me.”
Getting your nose bloodied in wrestling is nothing new, Cottrell said.
“Most of them have had it happen more than once,” he said. “They say, ‘OK, I’ve got a bloody nose.’ They plug it up and go on.”
Along with the bothersome headgear, Teaster was also down late to Holley, a wrestler no Heritage grappler had ever beaten.
“He’s been Heritage’s nemesis the last two years,” Cottrell said. “We’ve just never been able to beat him.”
Teaster said a little outside help enabled him to focus with the match slipping away.
“I couldn’t have done it without God,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it myself.”
With a late surge, Heritage soon had only its second-ever region champion, one who plans to do anything but rest on his laurels. The region title is only a stepping stone if he handles it right, Teaster said.
A region crown is sweet, he said. A state title, one day, would be better.
“I want to make this my foundation and build from there,” he said. “This feels great.”