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Top Halls Invitational efforts involve late rallies

A.J. Farinella and Spencer Grieco had two things in common coming out of the annual Halls Invitational Wrestling Tournament.

Both Farragut High School grapplers had special accomplishments Saturday, Jan. 19, among a 22-team field.

Farinella, ranked No. 5 in Division I state in the 140-pound class, beat two other top-five state-ranked opponents to win his first tourney of the season.

Grieco, a senior at 171, had a career day by finishing second to Webb’s Brandt Campbell, ranked No. 2 in Division II state.

Secondly, Farinella and Grieco both came from behind late in key matches for victories.

“Hopefully it stays this way ’till state,” said Farinella, a senior who beat Kole Bishop of Sullivan East (ranked No. 3 in state) 5-2 after trailing 2-0 with less than a minute left in the match.

Saying a “throw” was the key move in the final minute, the senior added, “I think I was in much better shape.”

In the semifinals, Farinella (32-5 record entering the week) beat No. 3 state-ranked Kenny Erman of Pigeon Forge 9-2.

Grieco trailed Justin Garvin of David Crockett 4-2 in the third period of his semifinal match before rallying to win 6-4.

“I threw legs in, hit a good move, he let me have it. I got back-points,” said Grieco, whose record stood at 23-9 entering the week.

“This was definitely my best tournament of the year ... It’s my best placing in all of high school. ... Definitely the best I’ve ever wrestled.”

After grabbing the lead in the third period, Grieco added, “In the last ten seconds there I was just hanging on for dear life.”

Campbell, who had only lost twice this season entering the week, also won his first tournament of the season after claiming second at the Catholic Invitational and third at Father Ryan.

“It’s a good tournament to get ready for state coming up,” the All-state football honoree said. “I’m pleased.”

Ethan Farinella, FHS sophomore, took second in the 119-pound class, while Admiral Clayton Ginn (130), Spartan Spencer Arnett (135) and Christian Academy of Knoxville’s Jacob Smith (140) each finished third. Warrior Steven Fortner (215) was fourth.

“Clayton wrestled extremely well,” FHS head coach Timothy Brunson said.

David Morse of CAK (112) was fifth, while Matt Moore of Bearden (145) finished sixth, as did CAK Warrior teammates Zach Haine (285) and Mason Stanford (103).

Admiral Lawton Johnson (152), Webb’s Dillon Saas (140) and Bulldogs Ian McKinley (112) and Shiram Zaveri (103) were seventh. “Lawton wrestled extremely well,” Brunson said.

Farragut’s Luke Skierik (160), Kevin Mann (125), Chris Berman (189) each were eighth.

About Skierik, only a freshman, “I can’t be prouder of this young man,” Brunson said. “He works his butt off every day. Chris Berman in eighth was extremely good.”

As a team, Farragut finished tied for fifth with William Blount (148), well behind champ Independence (287.5).


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