When Boyd-Buchanan High School senior Zane Williams was in third grade, he decided he was going to be a state wrestling champion. And years later, after daily 5 a.m. wake-ups to weight lift, he earned that title.
Williams recently won against his longtime rival, Chattanooga Christian School's Justin Wheeler, to bring the Class AA-A title home to BBS for the first time in the school's history.
"We know each other pretty well on the mat," Williams said of Wheeler. "So to win, and with my dad in the corner watching, was just amazing. I guess the word would be 'surreal,' maybe."
The win isn't just big for Williams and the school, but also for incoming coach Shane Turner, who left Red Bank High School last year to coach for BBS.
"It takes a lot of commitment to be a champion-level wrestler," Turner said. "Most successful wrestlers, it's a lifestyle. It's not just when you're on the mat or in practice. It's the way you prepare, the way you eat, the circles you run in. And we require high achievement in the community and classroom, too."
Turner said Williams has paved the way for other BBS wrestlers to follow; especially when his example is coupled with the announcement of a new wrestling and strength training facility on the school's campus, set to open next fall.
"A small school here like Boyd doesn't have the longstanding history of some of these bigger schools," Turner said. " But it's not just about winning, it's winning the right way. We want them to be not just good wrestlers, but high-quality men.
"This young man, Zane Williams, has set the precedent," Turner added. "He broke the ice, he set the bar and he proved that we can do it."
Looking forward, Williams said his college plans don't necessarily include a wrestling future. Instead, he hopes to focus on academic pursuits, majoring in biology at University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
"I just have a lot of 'thank-yous,'" he said of his ability to achieve his childhood dream.