THE COFFEE County Red Raider wrestling team had its first ever male state medalist at the Tennessee High School Wrestling Championship: sophomore Jacob Barlow. “Jacob has been wrestling since he was seven, with the Tullahoma youth program as well as the youth and high school programs in Manchester,” said his coach and father, Roger Barlow. “Including the state tournament, Jacob went 36 – 4 and was two points away from wrestling for a state championship,” coach Barlow said.
“He’s always kind of had big aspirations as far as continuing to wrestle after high school,” wrestling coach Randall Jennings said. “After placing in state we kind of stepped aside and talked about his path for- ward and the national tournaments we were going to compete in.”
Jacob has continued going to national tournaments, placing in many of them as well. One of those was in Independence Missouri, where he placed third in his 10th grade 163 pound division. He spends his off-season wrestling, making the sport a year-round prac- tice. Because of this and his young introduc- tion to wrestling, Jacob has accumulated a lot of experience.
“Even though he’s a sophomore by age, he’s probably one of our more senior members as far as experience,” Jennings said. “He not only is a leader of our high school program, but he stays after and works with our youth club program and spends a lot of time helping our younger kids out.”
“Jacob coaches with the youth program every night they have practice,” Barlow said.
“They respond really well to him. They see him as somewhere between a coach and a high school wrestler, and a big brother,” Barlow said. “He is amazing with them – he’s a very, very good coach.”
“Wrestling is different from other team sports,” Jennings said, “because while you do have a team, the individual matches are solo events.” He said it teaches self perseverance and accountability.
“When you step out there on the mat, it’s really just you out there,” Jennings said. “You’re all by yourself. You don’t have any- body else to kind of blame or fall back on or anything like that, so you really have to be accountable for yourself.”
Wrestling isn’t just for guys in Coffee County. The wrestling team’s first state med- alist was Alicean Stottlemyer, who at the time was on a girls team by herself. Since then two other female wrestlers have placed at state: Maryanne Walker and Alana Coker. Stottle- myer’s older sister, Tori Fuerbacher, wrestled at Middle Tennessee State University and placed second in the NCWA Women’s Na- tional Championship.
While Jacob has continued to have suc- cess, coach Barlow said it was certainly not on his own. One of the other wrestlers, Gavin Prater, had a record of 30 – 2 and would have been the team’s first ever 4-year state qualifier had he not gotten injured be- fore the region tournament.
“He’s had really good partners all this time,” Barlowsaid.“Allthoseguysputinthetimeand put in the effort during the season, you know, and they make each other better.” -GN