East Ridge coach Brad Laxton can start making motel reservations for his wrestling team in Franklin next weekend.
For the first time in 20 years, the Pioneers have qualified for the State Duals, which begin on Friday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center, after defeating Notre Dame on Saturday by a 54-26 final score.
It was a celebration all around for East Ridge as a reunion of sorts attracted many former wrestlers and coaches, but perhaps the biggest cheer of the day came when Laxton presented his team with the plaque signifying that they were indeed the Region Duals champions for 2013.
The forfeit brothers claimed half of the 14 individual matches while East Ridge won four and Notre Dame three.
The Pioneers also benefited from five of those seven forfeits as they improved to 24-7 with the victory.
"We looked good and we're rolling right now. I just hope we take the momentum we have to Franklin on Friday and not be satisfied with just showing up," said Laxton after the match ended.
"My guys are starting to buy into the philosophy that if we go out and fight hard from the start, we have a good chance of winning and that's what we did today.
"I was really happy for Josh Kilgore, who is a senior and has had some tough luck at times. He came out and made a statement as he meant business," Laxton continued.
"I'm super excited about the state duals. I've tried to stay focused on the issues at hand, but we can start making our plans for Franklin," he concluded with a smile.
Notre Dame coach John Mullin knew that his team was shorthanded from the start. The Irish only have one senior, so the days ahead are much brighter than the ones he's experiencing now.
"I just want to wish East Ridge the best of luck next weekend at the state duals. They're taking a good team and I hope they have a great run," Mullin began by praising the Pioneers.
"We have a lot of young ones on our team and they have a long way to go, but the ones who have experience did pretty well today," he added.
Luke Mullin and Alex Eberle both received forfeits at 106 and 113 to give Notre Dame an early 12-0 lead.
Brandon Whitley's second-period pin cut the lead in half before Packy Mullin got a second-period pin and Noah Bankston a major decision to extend Notre Dame's lead to 22-6.
Michael Labbe added another major decision at 160 as Notre Dame led for the final time at 26-24, but it wasn't enough as Robert McAvoy, Kilgore and Brandon Cantrell all posted first-minute pins as the Pioneers finished strong.
Kendall Small, Tabrin Walker, Nakota Culver, C.J. Baker and Will Garner all received forfeits for East Ridge.
EAST RIDGE 54, NOTRE DAME 26
(Match started at 106 Pounds)
106 -- Luke Mullin (ND) won by forfeit;
113 -- Alex Eberle (ND) won by forfeit;
120 -- Brandon Whitley (ER) pinned Jared Andrews, 2:52;
126 -- Packy Mullin (ND) pinned Spencer Griffy, 2:35;
132 -- Noah Bankston (ND) major dec. Justin Hitchcock, 12-4;
138 -- Robert McAvoy (ER) pinned Nick McGirl, :25;
145 -- Josh Kilgore (ER) pinned Michael Quatrano, :48;
152 -- Kendall Small (ER) won by forfeit;
160 -- Michael Labbe (ND) major dec. DeAngelo Johnson, 16-5;
170 -- Tabrin Walker (ER) won by forfeit;
182 -- Nakota Culver (ER) won by forfeit;
195 -- Brandon Cantrell (ER) pinned Chris Hornsby, :45;
220 -- C.J. Baker (ER) won by forfeit;
285 -- Will Garner (ER) won by forfeit.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)