There was a lot of wrestling at Hixson Saturday as nine teams gathered at the high school and middle school gymnasiums for the annual Vandergriff Duals.
When all was said and done, first place belonged to the Walker Valley Mustangs as they beat the Gordon Lee Trojans by a 52-18 final in a match pitting the two pool winners.
Walker Valley had soundly defeated teams from Clarksville, Signal Mountain and Stone Memorial before facing the Trojans, who are the defending Class A state duals champion in Georgia.
Gordon Lee had defeated East Hamilton, Eagleville, Hixson and Alcoa for a berth in the final. The Trojans didn't waste any time after the final match had ended as they quickly boarded the old yellow school bus and headed to Atlanta where they'll compete in the prestigious Kyle Maynard Duals on Saturday.
Perhaps the best match of the day was between Gordon Lee and Hixson. The Trojans prevailed by criteria -- the eighth criteria listed in the rule book of the American Amateur Wrestling Federation, which counts the team with most points scored first in the individual matches.
The Trojans finished pool play with a 46-30 victory over Alcoa, but for whatever reason, they didn't have much left for the match with Walker Valley.
Caleb Langford got the Mustangs off and running with a forfeit in the first match at 138 before Lawrence Cotton made it 12-0 with a second-period pin over two-time defending state champ Alex Spires at 145.
William Jacks scored a reversal at the final buzzer for a 7-6 win as Gordon Lee put its first points on the board, but Walker Valley kept the pressure on and stretched the lead to 19-3 following a regular decision by QyRe Brown at 160 and a major decision by Chase Gregory at 170.
Michael Farmer and Corey Jewell gave the Trojans something to cheer about with back-to-back wins at 182 and 195, but the Mustangs then reeled off five straight wins for a commanding 46-12 lead before the Trojans snapped the streak with a pin from Mika Clark at 126.
Tyrus Hamrick's forfeit in the final weight was meaningless for the Mustangs as they had already wrapped up their 16th win against just three defeats.
"This is a good finish for the first half of our season," said Walker Valley coach Alan Morris after the match ended.
"I'm sure that we'll have some adjustments later, but this is a good way for us to be rewarded for a lot of hard work. This is a positive way to go into a few days off for Christmas.
"We were fortunate to come out with a win, but we're tired and ready for a break. I'm really proud of these guys today. They did a great job," Morris stated after his team's eighth-straight win.
Gordon Lee coach Brent Raby certainly didn't offer any excuses.
"That wasn't too bad, going 4-1 here today," he said later.
"Walker Valley pushed the pace as they came after us. They're a good looking team. We knew we were light with several starters not here, but this is great experience for our kids.
"Walker Valley hit us right in the mouth, so our hat's off to them. I'm sure we'll learn from this and I have no doubt that we'll be just fine after Christmas. We have a scrappy bunch of guys, but we get to see some more outstanding teams tomorrow," he said.
While Hixson's match with Gordon Lee literally went right down to the wire, the consolation match with Clarksville was equally as intense.
The Wildcats had a 27-19 lead, but the Wildcats came back and took its first lead following a win by injury default for Steven Sklavenitis at 126. It was a close match, but the Clarksville wrestler was completely exhausted when the second period.
Even though he wanted to continue, he was wobbly on his feet and forced to default by the medical personnel on hand.
That win put Hixson on top 31-29 before senior captain Isaiah Hawthorne sealed the deal with 45-second pin in the last match for the 37-29 final.
"That was a big win for us as Clarksville is a AAA school," said Hixson coach Garrick Hall afterward.
"Our kids stepped up and really wrestled hard today. And it was a nice feeling to have our stud up in the final match," Hall added.
One thing that may have made the win over Clarksville a little sweeter is the fact that Jacky Blosser is the head coach for the Wildcats. Blosser is a Hixson graduate and a Wildcat assistant under Hall in 2009 when Hixson won its last state duals title.
WALKER VALLEY 52, GORDON LEE 18
(Match started at 138 Pounds)
106 -- Drake Haney (WV) won by forfeit;
113 -- Logan Smith (WV) pinned Stihl Lance, 4:26;
120 -- Braxton Brewer (WV) dec. Blake Clayton, 8-4;
126 -- Mika Clark (GL) pinned Arrie Bramlett, 1:30;
132 -- Tyrus Hamrick (WV) won by forfeit;
138 -- Caleb Langford (WV) won by forfeit;
145 -- Lawrence Cotton (WV) pinned Alex Spires, 2:12;
152 -- William Jacks (GL) dec. Ryan Hager, 7-6;
160 -- QyRe Brown (WV) dec. Jonathan Bettis, 10-7;
170 -- Chase Gregory (WV) major dec. Clayton Reeves, 11-2;
182 -- Michael Farmer (GL) dec. Chazz Fulford, 6-4 in overtime;
195 -- Corey Jewell (GL) pinned Billy Raulston, 5:33;
220 -- Zack Miller (WV) won by injury default over Dallas Alder;
285 -- Samuel Dworak (WV) pinned Jarod Streetman, :44.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)