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Raptors coach built wrestling program from scratch


The Raptors took a team photo before their final home match of the season recently. Ravenwood has a three-peat as region dual champs. (Photos by Leah Klingensmith)

Ravenwood returns to weekend's dual tourney for another shot at state

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Ravenwood wrestling coach Josh Peck, whose team placed third in last year’s state duals tournament and is headed back again Friday, built the Raptors program from the ground floor up when the school opened nine years ago.

Peck, a former wrestler at Grassland Middle and Frankin High, worked under his high school coach 1998-2001 at Centennial after Coach Paul Hambrick started that program when CHS opened.

Coach Josh Peck has been the only wrestling coach in Ravenwood school history.

“I wanted to get a chance to start my own program,” Peck said. “Obviously Coach Hambrick taught me pretty well. … I got my tenure (at Centennial) and then they opened up Ravenwood and I put my hat in the ring for the job.

“Luckily they wanted me. The first year was pretty rough with just freshmen and sophomores. Our goal was just to have fun, and that has continued even today.”

Peck said the Raptors wrestlers “will have fun in a room with nothing else in it. They will find a way to have fun.”

At Franklin Peck was a four-time region champion and placed at the state individual tournament three times – including one finalist berth. He also had fifth and third places to go with his runner-up medal, wrestling at 103 as a freshman, 112 as a sophomore and 119 his final two seasons at FHS.

“I was a 75-pound little guy when I was in seventh and eighth grade, and baseball and football teams aren’t exactly looking for featherweights,” Peck said about his draw to the sport. “I also happened to foul out of many basketball games, and they said maybe you should try wrestling and I did.”

Peck even ended up getting coaching from Tony Rowland on the side and wound up wrestling in college at Lindenwood in the 118- and 126-pound weight classes. He decided to go into coaching, and also teaches Algebra I and personal finance and has taught all the way up to pre-calculus.

“Even when I was in high school, a couple of kids would refer me as ‘OK, Coach’ sarcastically,” Peck said about his career choice as wrestling coach. “It’s just something that fit in with what I enjoyed doing.”

Ravenwood wrestles at 5:30 p.m. Friday and a win would send them to a 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal.

Ravenwood, 10th-ranked in the state coaches’ poll, wrestles Germantown at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Williiamson County Ag Expo Center in the TSSAA Class AAA State Duals Tournament, which features team matches. If the Raptors win, they will make the quarterfinals against the fourth-ranked Cleveland vs. Blackman winner at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

An opening loss would send Ravenwood into the Class AAA losers bracket Saturday. If RHS wins twice on Friday night, the Raptors will advance into Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinals against No. 7 Science Hill, Heritage, Knoxville West or Beech. The finals are at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“It is grueling to say the least,” Peck said about the duals tournament format. “Five to six really tough matches in two days will wear on anybody.

“The Chattanooga schools have built quite a dynasty over there, and we’re playing catch-up.”

Region runner-up Independence is in the other draw, with Maryville in the opener, Dobyns-Bennett vs. Cordova winner in the quarters, and No. 11 Clarksville, Powell, second-ranked Soddy-Daisy or Wilson Central if the Eagles reach the semis.

“Our county is getting extremely competitive,” Peck said. “There are several good teams and good feeder programs, and our county is getting up there in reputation. Most people mention Chattanooga and then Williiamson County when they’re talking about teams.”

Travis undergoes surgery again: RHS junior Jacob Travis, who recently returned from summer surgery after tearing a labrum at the end of last season, came back just in time to help the Raptors to win their third straight regional title. But then he suffered a torn labrum in the other shoulder and was scheduled to undergo surgery again this week.

BA in Division II duals: Brentwood Academy opens in the Division II duals tourney, also at the Ag Expo Center in Franklin, at 3:30 p.m. Friday against third-ranked Father Ryan. The winner makes the 7:30 p.m. semifinals against No. 6 McCallie or St. Benedict, and the loser drops into Saturday’s 9 a.m. losers bracket match. No. 1 Christian Brothers and No. 9 MBA battle in the first round of the other side of the draw.

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