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A.J. breaks through
Reveiz, Coffin a close 2nd at Halls Invitational

A.J. Farinella was a state qualifier in each of his first two seasons wrestling at Farragut High School before earning a top-five state rank this season as a junior in the 135-pound class.

But something big was still missing on his resume: A tournament championship — despite numerous runner-up finishes. Farinella, however, overcame bridesmaid status and won the annual Halls Invitational championship Saturday, Jan. 13, with a last-second pin against Bearden senior Andrew Birdwell.

"It’s very special, especially since it’s close to home,” Farinella said.

FHS head coach Jason Moorman added that Farinella “didn’t have a point scored on him” the entire tournament with three pins and one technical fall victory (15-0). “He’s working hard, and that’s what it takes.”

Though having enjoyed career success against one of Bearden’s top wrestlers in Birdwell — also beating him in both the KIL and region tournaments last season — Farinella praised his finals opponent. “Finishing a shot is really tough to do on him,” the FHS junior said.

Farragut finished fifth among a 16-team field (148.5 points), boosted by runner-up finishes from Farinella’s younger brother, Ethan Farinella at 103, and senior Shane Reveiz at 215.

Meanwhile, Bearden took fourth-place (157 points) behind runner-up finishes from Birdwell, senior Nathan Bevelhimer (160), freshman Jacob Coffin (130) and sophomore Ian Little (112).


In what has become a rivalry among two of Tennessee’s best at 215, Reveiz lost a finals heartbreaker to Union County’s Frankie Morgan (defending Division I champ at 189) thanks to a two-point takedown in the final two seconds of the match, winning 3-1.

“Frankie got a little angle on him right there at the end,” Moorman said.

Though Morgan is now 3-0 against Reveiz this season, all three matches have been decided by one or two points. “I really thought Shane controlled the tie-ups, he was in control the whole time, I think that’s the first time that’s happened all year,” Moorman added.

“We’re hoping by region it’s going to be in our favor. Though we really want to beat Frankie, we look at the situation as to how much [Reveiz] improves. We have four weeks until state, and our goal is to win a state championship.”

Moorman also praised Clayton Ginn (125) for pulling an upset “over the number four seed from Brentwood Academy” en route to a fourth-place finish.

At 112, Kevin Mann earned his career-best finish in a tournament (fifth). “I’m proud of him,” Moorman said. Allan Cameron also took fifth, while Greg Greico (160) and Lawton Johnson (140) each finished sixth — Johnson doing so despite spraining his knee. Moorman said Saturday he doesn’t know how long Johnson would be out. Joe Perez (119) ended up seventh.

Philip Poplawski (189) finished eighth despite suffering a knee injury. Moorman did not know the extent of that injury Saturday.


Similar to Reveiz, Bearden’s Coffin lost a finals heartbreaker (10-8) thanks to a takedown in the final five seconds by Ryan King of Seymour.

“We started out great, but we didn’t finish like we should have,” BHS head coach Junior Hernandez said of his finals wrestlers, adding that being in the finals “is something new, a taste they’re not familiar with that I’ve got to get them used to, and that’s winning in the finals.

“When you win a match you’ve gotta keep going, keep climbing, ready for the next match. Little things that we’ve got to work on in practice.”

Hernandez praised the improvement of Ian McKinley at 103, who after winning the Gibbs tournament one weekend before took fifth at Halls. “He’s turned it up and doing really great this year,” the coach said. “Ian Little [112] has turned it up so much since the beginning of the year.” Little was second at Gibbs and second at the St. Mary’s tourney.

“Coffin, Birdwell, Nathan, they’ve all turned it up.

“I’m glad they’re realizing it’s more than just a sport, it’s commitment, dedication,” Hernandez added. “They’re learning and understanding that, and that’s what I’m driving at.”

Marc Dosch (285) earned fifth for the Bulldogs while Preston Seal took sixth. Christian Barker (125) and Hanif Mansoor (140) each finished seventh.

Christian Academy of Knoxville received fifth-place finishes from Jacob Smith (140) and Steve Fortner (189).

(Related story, page 6)


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