Baylor's Bryson - A Mat Champ Like His Pop(p)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

Though four decades apart, their athletic careers are quite similar.

Dr. Tom Popp won a state wrestling title in 1975 for Hixson High School, while also holding the title of junior national champion in open canoe.

His youngest son, Bryson, goes for a second state wrestling title (and fourth overall medal)this weekend at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center, while being a four-time defending national champion with older brother Colton (now in dental school in Memphis and a two-time state wrestling runner-up) in adult whitewater canoeing-kayaking.

Bryson also holds a team world gold medal in the Dragon Boat (20-man and 10-man) competition in Hungary.

Dr. Popp was the state tournament Outstanding Wrestler award in ’75, wrestled one year at UTC for coach Jim Morgan and later was seventh at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials in kayaking and still competes in masters events.

A heavy favorite to win a second mat title and a strong candidate for OW, the younger Popp, will also attend UTC, hopefully be accepted into the school's Honors Program and will continue his national and world caliber padding passion.

While wrestling has taken Bryson to some of the top prep tournaments in the nation, paddling has taken him to various parts of the globe, including Australia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Spain.

All in the Family: But state and national championships are not solely reserved for the men in the Popp household.

Selena, a Baylor junior, is the TSSAA D-II defending state champ in the pentathlon, high jump and 100 meter high hurdles. In the water, she is the defending national champ in women’s whitewater canoeing-kayaking, while older sister, Haley, is a three-time national champ.

While members of the Popp family have paddled from sea to shining sea and beyond, they will focus on the squared circle in Franklin this weekend and cheer as Bryson dons the Baylor singlet for one more run at a mat title before continuing his paddling career.

State Wrestling Facts:

Williamson County Ag Expo Center - Franklin, Tenn.  I-65  Exit 61

D-I AAA: Thurs-Sat.

D-II, D-I A-AA, Girls Invite: Fri-Sat.

Championship Finals: Sat. 5 p.m. (CST) for all divisions

contact B.B. Branton at

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