The administration at Ooltewah High School didn't waste any time finding a new wrestling coach.
Wendell Weathers announced last week that he was stepping aside after 13 years as the head coach to become the Dean of Students for the Owls.
Bryant Blackmon was introduced as the new head coach on Friday afternoon.
Blackmon is a 28-year-old former state champion who won the 171-pound title as a senior at Bradley after finishing as runner-up in 2003.
He followed older brother Rusty to Oklahoma State where he was a member of the Cowboys' wrestling team when they won a pair of NCAA championships. He transferred back to UTC after his sophomore year where he later graduated with a degree in Finance. He added a Masters degree from Lincoln Memorial in Curriculum and Instruction a few years later.
Blackmon was the head coach at Greenback for two years before coming back to Cleveland where he has been an assistant coach at Walker Valley for the past four years. He wasn't really looking to leave Walker Valley, but when the opportunity presented itself, he couldn't say no.
"I'm really excited as it was a great opportunity for me to take over a well-established program," Blackmon explained Friday afternoon after meeting his newest team for the first time.
"I'm sad to be leaving a great group of guys at Walker Valley. I was happy where I was and I knew that it would have to be the perfect situation for me to leave. Ooltewah is the perfect place for me.
"I came down to meet the guys this afternoon and they seem to be motivated," Blackmon added.
He's been teaching Computer Applications at Walker Valley, but he'll be an Economics teacher at Ooltewah.
Jim Jarvis is the principal at Ooltewah who was part of the group who interviewed Blackmon. He feels like it's a great opportunity for all parties involved.
"It's great news that Bryant Blackmon has accepted the offer to be our next wrestling coach," Jarvis said Friday afternoon.
"We're truly blessed to have a man like him take over in this position. Wendell Weathers did a great job of taking this program to the next level and we feel confident that Bryant will continue that process. We want to continue the progress that Wendell started and feel like Bryant is the one to do that.
"Bryant is a class person. He's a quality teacher and outstanding wrestling coach. We're looking for big things from him," Jarvis said.
Blackmon has served under head coach Alan Morris for the past four years, but their background goes way back before that as Morris was his coach in the Bradley Kids Club.
"I'm happy for Bryant and I know that he'll do a good job. If that's the route he wants to take, I'm 100 percent behind him. I've known him since he was a little kid and he's a good guy. We'll miss him, but I feel sure that he's ready to put Ooltewah back on the map in wrestling," Morris offered.
Blackmon and his wife Meghan are expecting their first child in June.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)