Even after having wrestled a grueling schedule of weekend tournaments, he always managed to finish off the week with a long run every Sunday morning -- sometimes as long as 20 miles.
“I’ve been to the state all four years,” Bates said earlier this week, “but I was really determined this season. I believe championship matches are decided in the third period. I had a lot of gas left in my tank in the semis and the finals.”
Bates won a pair of come-from-behind matches to close out his 5-0 run through the state tournament. He rallied for a 5-4 win over Aaron Hudson of Bradley Central in the semifinals, then came back from being down 2-0 to defeat Jack Boone of Chattanooga Notre Dame 3-2 for the title.
“I just knew I had to work hard and keep pressure on him the last 30 seconds and make sure he didn’t get an escape point,” Bates said.
Bates took the lead at 3-2 with about a minute remaining on an underhook with a single leg dump -- a move that Boone had executed on Bates earlier in the match. “It was the identical move he hit on me in the first period. Kind of ironic, the exact same move,” Bates said.
Senior Scott Seaman finished second at 130 pounds, losing a 9-1 major decision to Campbell Lewis of Soddy Daisy in the finals. Prior to the championship match, Seaman had gone 4-0 in the state.
Mt. Juliet’s 189-pounder Blake Biggs lost in the second round, but rolled through the consolation bracket for six consecutive wins to finish third. All told, the Mt. Juliet team finished in fifth place.
Girl’s tournament -- Lebanon High ninth grader Aletha Grisham (148 lbs) placed second in her five-member bracket while Ali Trull placed fourth at 120 pounds.