Chris Woods News
New wrestling facility, other improvements planned for Arlington High
This article originally appeared in the Daily Memphian.
Following success in recent years on the state, regional and local levels, Arlington High’s wrestling squads will be rewarded next fall with a new home facility.
Construction will begin on the $3.9 million building early next year.
“I really think it’s going to turn a lot of heads when it gets built,” Jonathan Simpson, Arlington’s head wrestling coach, said. “For the school, it’s going to be on par with the exceptional facilities that they’ve been building, and I personally believe it’s going to be the top-of-the-line facility in West Tennessee.”
His Arlington squads have only lost two Division I matches to local opponents over the past six years, and the program has produced multiple state medalists including two state champions and a state runner-up. Wrestling, in terms of district, regional and state championships/titles, is the top-performing sport at AHS, but wrestling matches have been relegated to a small gym in the back of the high school.
“We’re moving into that echelon of the schools that are willing to provide not only athletic opportunities for our students but are also giving our sports programs the facilities to provide excellence for those student-athletes,” said Simpson. “Since I’ve been at Arlington, we have not had our own place to work out. Now, we’ll have an extremely nice facility to call home where we can continue to build tradition.”
He looks forward to seeing the school’s various banners and awards decorating the walls of the new facility.
“For us, a big hurdle is keeping the kids in our area, so they don’t go to a variety of other private schools,” said Simpson. “In a lot of cases, that comes down to facilities.”
Arlington also has a youth wrestling program for K-8 students, who will also use the new facility.
“Coach Simpson, his staff and our athletes have built a wrestling program that’s been recognized statewide for its achievements,” Jeff Mayo, Arlington Community Schools superintendent, said. “This new facility will give our athletes even more opportunities to host local and statewide competitions, a chance to build their skills to remain competitive for potential scholarships and help recruit future Tigers through the Arlington Wrestling feeder program.”
Earlier this month the Arlington Planning Commission approved the site plan for general contractor Chris Woods Construction, and they hope to start work by Feb. 1, according to project manager Grant Mills.
“The objective is to have substantial completion done by August before school starts,” said Mills.
Lakeland-based Renaissance Group Architects designed the facility, which will measure close to 14,500 square feet and attach to the existing school. In addition to seating for 300, the addition will have a gymnasium, locker rooms, coach’s offices, weight rooms and lobby area. A new parking lot will add 127 spaces on the southwest side of the school.
The project also includes a new 1,150-square-foot soccer concessions and restroom facility on the west side of the soccer field, replacing an existing small ticket booth/concession stand.
“After our initial planning, we learned through the architect that we could do a suite of projects at a cheaper cost, so that’s why we expanded it to include these other items as well,” Mayo said.
ACS wants to make sure the project reaches more than just one set of students by benefiting both male and female sports. In recent years, the school’s dance and cheer teams have sometimes used the rotunda in the middle of the school for practices.
“In addition to wrestling, the new facility will be utilized by the cheer and dance teams when it’s not in use, and with the project adding a new concession stand and restrooms at the soccer complex, we’re making sure that both male and female soccer athletes are seeing the benefits as well,” Mayo said.
Mills sees minimal preliminary site work necessary to get construction underway.
“It’s nothing like what the school’s new indoor training facility required, where we had to install 11-foot-tall concrete stem walls and 27,000 yards of dirt to fill that in,” he said.
Arlington High’s new $4 million indoor athletic training facility (also built by Chris Woods) that opened in October and the planned wrestling facility are part of the district’s five-year capital improvement blueprint.
Chris Woods is currently building a similar wrestling facility as part of the new Lakeland Preparatory high school wing, which should open by the fall of 2022. There also are expected to build a new replacement gymnasium for Collierville Elementary.