Franklin’s big four could make splash in regionals

Published 8:57 am Friday, February 6, 2009

FRANKLIN—The regular season is over and it’s time for the wrestling postseason to begin. Franklin High School is betting on four senior wrestlers who have grown up  together to make one final splash.

The Group A Region A tournament runs on February 13 and 14 at Mathews High School. The top four wrestlers in each weight class from the region will go to the state tournament February 20 and 21 in Salem.

Franklin and Sussex Central are the only two schools in the Tri-Rivers District with a wrestling program. The Broncos schedule this year included matches against many of the Region A schools. Emmett Artis, Isiah Hudson, Tyler Childress, and Antwan Flythe all have sparkling records this season against Region A competition. Childress and Hudson have beaten everyone they have faced from Region A.

Artis, who wrestles at 145 pounds, comes into the regionals with a 25-2 record. He came to the wrestling program straight from football season his freshman year.

“The high school football season had just ended. I didn’t want to be at home. I’d probably be out on the street or in trouble,” Artis said. “Me and Antwan and Isiah just came out and decided to wrestle in the ninth grade.”

Without a feeder program in Franklin, wrestlers are learning their skills in ninth grade, as opposed to a team like Mathews, which has a feeder program.

“Coach Bull (Daniel Johnson) teaches us the moves. He gives us time to learn the moves, then we wrestle each other,” Artis said.

Hudson, who wrestles at 160 pounds, is 18-2 on the season. A smart and powerful wrestler, Hudson showed his skill on Wednesday night in a match against Sussex Central. Hudson wrestled up at 171 and beat Calvin Givens with a 14-8 decision.

“I think the biggest mistake some young wrestlers make is they try to overpower people too much,” Hudson said. “I knew the kid was strong, so I just used brains instead of brawn and worked on keeping him down.”

Hudson also joined the team in ninth grade. “My friends recruited me in ninth grade because I really had plans of playing basketball,” he said.

Flythe, who started the season at 125, but is now wrestling at 130, is 26-5 coming into the regionals. He also plays football, track, and soccer. He turned something he watched his brother do into a successful career at FHS. “I always wanted to wrestle because my brother wrestled. It’s fun and it helps keep me in shape,” he said.

Childress, also a senior, wrestles at 171 pounds and is 22-2 on the season. His only two losses  this year were to AA and AAA wrestlers.

“I believe two if not three of the four are going to win the region,” said Daniel Johnson, Franklin head coach. “I think the four will be in the finals.”