If you plan to live on campus, tuition for The McCallie School for boys in Chattanooga is an absolutely smokin’ $37,955 a year.
You can knock it down to $20,245 if you commute. Books for advanced placement high school classes can run another $800.
Those are pertinent facts when it comes to William Blount High School sophomore T.J. Satterfield.
The Blount County wrestling duals are scheduled for Friday night at William Blount. Weigh-ins are scheduled for 5:30 p.m., with wrestling beginning tentatively at 6:30. Satterfield, the state’s third-ranked wrestler at 215 pounds, enters as one of the meet’s favored grapplers.
This time a year ago, Satterfield was in his freshman season at McCallie. The Blue Tornado’s featured light heavyweight, he would go on to finish third in last season’s Division II state tournament. He’d finished fifth as a McCallie eighth-grader only the year before.
“I’m going for first this year,” Satterfield said.
The Governor prodigy was already a star on the summer AAU circuit by the third grade at Greenback School. Many of the wrestlers he competed with and against were products of McCallie’s Tornado Wrestling Club, where instruction is open to boys from kindergarten through fifth grade.
As a seventh-grader, Satterfield’s Team Tennessee AAU squad took part in a meet in Iowa, where many of his teammates were McCallie students. McCallie was willing to help with tuition when it came time for Satterfield’s eighth-grade year, which says a lot about what the Blue Tornado coaching staff thought of his talents. Boarding his son in Chattanooga for the school year wasn’t an easy decision, William Blount coach Tim Satterfield said, but it was the right one.
“His dream since he was 7 years old has been to be an Olympic wrestler,” he said, “and it’s my job as a parent to put him in the best possible position I can for him to be successful.”
Wrestling practice at McCallie was unlike any he had attended, T.J. said.
“Everyday you better come in ready to go or you’re going to get rocked,” he said.
That ultra-competitive atmosphere, Satterfield said, did a great deal to hone his edge.
“Good or bad, I’m always ready for anybody that comes out there,” he said.
Satterfield returned home when his father was named the Governors’ new wrestling coach this summer. The move has been a successful one to date, with Satterfield entering this weekend’s county duals with an unbeaten 40-0 record. Those successes must be viewed with caution, however, Tim Satterfield said.
Bradley Central, Soddy-Daisy, Cleveland and Walker Valley are all on the card for next month’s region tournament at Stone Memorial in Crossville. Bradley senior Tucker Bolton is the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 215 pounds, with Soddy-Daisy junior Billy Swanson second.
Of 14 championship bouts at last year’s region tournament, seven would pit a Cleveland wrestler against one from Bradley Central. The Bears would place a wrestler in 12 championship matches overall, the Blue Raiders nine. Bradley Central would go on to claim seven region crowns, Cleveland five.
Locally, only Maryville’s Fletcher Dukes and Logan Ridenour would advance to the finals.
The increased competition can only be a plus for area teams, Heritage coach John Davis said.
“I think it’s the best thing to happen to our program,” he said. “To get there, we’ve got to emulate them.”
“You’ve got to compete against them before you can figure out how to beat them,” Alcoa coach Brian Gossett said.
The secret of the greater Chattanooga-area schools is really no secret at all, Tim Satterfield said.
“They’ve just been so far ahead of us for so long,” he said, “(but) in middle school we’re catching them. They had youth programs in Chattanooga before we even thought about having them here.”
T.J. Satterfield, winner at 215 at last weekend’s Halls Invitational, is one of several area wrestlers who could reach and fare well at next month’s state meet. Six Blount County grapplers currently hold state rankings, which could really spice up this weekend’s festivities, Alcoa coach Brian Gossett said.
“We’ll have to wrestle well to be competitive with those three teams,” he said.
Maryville junior and Halls Invitational champion Nick Ogle is currently ranked fifth at 135 pounds, with the wrestler he defeated for the Halls title, Alcoa senior Julian Ramirez, sixth. Ramirez’ brother, Jose, is listed as one to watch at 140 pounds. The Ramirez twins are part of a senior class of six who have been invaluable, Gossett said.
“They’ve done a lot of good things,” he said. “Five of those kids were the only kids on the team four years ago. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done.”
Heritage senior and Halls champion Keegan Matlock holds down the state’s No. 5 spot amongst 152-pounders. With a formidable lineup that includes sophomore Skyler Boring (119) and senior Devan Teaster (130), Davis said the Mountaineers are looking to do well at state next month.
“We expect to medal this year,” he said, “all three of those guys.”
Ridenour, ranked fourth at 189, is unbeaten on the year, the Rebel senior finishing first at Halls to remain perfect. Maryville senior Shawn Morgan finished fifth at Halls and currently holds down the state’s No. 4 slot at 285 pounds.
Where the Tornadoes, Mountaineers and Rebels enter this weekend with more experience rosters, the Governors, evidenced by T.J. Satterfield’s lead, are a decidedly young group, with six to eight freshmen in the starting lineup on any given night. Still, Tim Satterfield believes the Governors are headed in the right direction and likes their chances Friday.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “It’s going to be a real tough tournament.”