CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Father Ryan wrestling team had a memorable first trip to the Bradley Invitational this weekend.
The Purple Irish, who in years past have been regulars at the McCallie Invitational, chose to do something new with the idea they'd be seeing different wrestlers from the ones they normally face in private-school competition.
The decision was a good one as Father Ryan walked away with the first-place team award after claiming five champions while nabbing medals in 12 of 14 weight classes and winning by a landslide with 279 points.
Host Bradley was second with 200.5 while Heritage was third with 134. Walker Valley and Blackman rounded out the top five teams in the 29-team field with 127.5 and 121 points, respectively.
Father Ryan had the team title all locked up before the championship finals as they entered with a lead of 46.5 points over the Bears. The Purple Irish won all five of their championship matches while the Bears were winless in five matches for first place.
Eli King (113), Trey Chalifioux (120), Kirby Simpson (126), Michael Eckhart (138) and Marcelo Morrice (145) all claimed titles for the winning Irish.
Heritage was the only other team with more than one winner and they included Michael Deimer at 132 and Schuylar LaRue at 195.
Other individual winners included Dalton Flint of Commerce at 106, Tyler Garrison of Blackman at 152, Scottsboro's Brandon Womack at 160, Etowah's Bronson Reichsteiner at 170, Maryville's Chad Solomon at 182, Huntsville's Peyton Demos at 220 and Clarksville's Bruno Reagan at 285.
Scottsboro's Womack, who has already won five state titles in Alabama, was voted as the Outstanding Wrestler after winning by a pin in a minute in the championship match.
The Best Match went to the 195-pound final where LaRue of Heritage posted a 3-2 victory over Maryville's Clay Strawn in overtime.
Clarksville's Reagan, the defending state champion at 285, earned the award for the Most Pins as he had five for the weekend in a total elapsed time of 3:34, including a 1:33 fall in the finals against Walker Valley's Zach Miller.
Father Ryan coach Pat Simpson, who has been the head coach for the Purple Irish for the last 34 years, saw a lot of positives in his first trip to the Jim Smiddy Arena and he's already looking forward to coming back next year.
"Not bad," he responded when asked his assessment of his team's work for the weekend.
"We were hoping for a bunch of champions and we had five, but we've been exams all week and you just never know how the kids will react after that. We struggled on Friday. We were winning, but it wasn't pretty.
"We came here this weekend to see some different folks and I have a lot of respect for Ben (Bradley coach Ben Smith). I knew the match at 113 pounds would be a fight, but my kid is a freshman who has the potential to be the best wrestler we've ever had at Father Ryan," Simpson praised King,
King beat Bradley junior Toribio Navarro by a 4-3 margin in a really close match. Navarro is the defending state champ at 106 pounds.
Bradley coach Ben Smith liked what he saw for the most part, but his team losing seven of eight matches in the medal round left him scratching his head.
"Are we still in second place?" he asked before the team awards were distributed.
"When you only win one of eight in the last round, you have to take a step back and look at the overall picture. We just have to learn how to finish and win some of those bigger matches at the end, but we set a goal of finishing in the top two and hoping to give Father Ryan a good run.
"I love the guys on this team as they work hard and are buying into what we're trying to teach. Their heart and effort is huge most of the time," Smith nodded, knowing that he has two huge matches at home after the holidays with Baylor and Rhea County coming on Jan. 7 and Cleveland on Jan. 9.
Bradley had five who finished second, including Ryan McElhaney at 106, Navarro at 113, Hunter Parker at 126, Taylor Kazy at 132 and Brett Brown at 182. Knox Fuller was third at 120 while Nathan Adams was fourth at 170 and Stephan Scott sixth at 138.
Walker Valley coach Alan Morris was hoping to see better results from his team.
"We're not happy with the way we performed here this weekend, but February is what we're shooting for and we still have a lot of improving to do. We'll take a few days off before going back to work on December 27, but this is the kind of competition we need to face to get ready for the post-season," Morris nodded.
Walker Valley had six medalists, including Miller second at 285, Billy Raulston third at 182, Ryan Hager (152) and Ric Kennett (195) both fourth, Lawrence Cotton fifth at 160 and Tyrus Hamrick sixth at 145.
FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. Father Ryan 279; 2. Bradley 200.5; 3. Heritage 134; 4. Walker Valley 127.5; 5. Blackman 121; 6. Commerce 118; 7. Halls 103.5; 8. Maryville 97.5; 9. Scottsboro 92.5; 10. Clarksville 91; 11. Bearden 86; 12. Tullahoma 83; 13. Hixson 82; 14. Huntsville 80; 15. Etowah 73; 16. East Ridge 66.5; 17. Mortimer Jordan 59; 18. Franklin 57; 19. Notre Dame 56.5; 20. Tennessee High and William Blount tied with 55; 22. Hardin Valley 53.5; 23. Seymour 48; 24. Chattanooga Central 43; 25. Gibbs 39; 26. East Hamilton 27; 27. Union Co. 16; 28. Sevier Co. 15; 29. South Doyle 9.
106 -- Dalton Flint (Commerce) dec. Ryan McElhaney (Bradley), 7-4;
113 -- Eli King (Father Ryan) dec. Toribio Navarro (Bradley), 4-3;
120 -- Trey Chalifioux (Father Ryan) dec. Devan Cyree (Tullahoma), 4-3;
126 -- Kirby Simpson (Father Ryan) major dec. Hunter Parker (Bradley), 10-0;
132 -- Michael Deimer (Heritage) dec. Taylor Kazy (Bradley), 7-4;
138 -- Michael Eckhart (Father Ryan) dec. Josh Feuerbacher (Blackman), 11-4;
145 -- Marcelo Morrice (Father Ryan) major dec. Noah Bankston (Notre Dame), 11-2;
152 -- Tyler Garrison (Blackman) dec. Brett Clark (Scottsboro), 3-2;
160 -- Brandon Womack (Scottsboro) pinned Trent Reddish (Commerce), 1:00;
170 -- Bronson Reichsteiner (Etowah) dec. DeAngelo Johnson (East Ridge), 7-4;
182 -- Chad Solomon (Maryville) pinned Brett Brown (Bradley), 3:10;
195 -- Schuylar LaRue (Heritage) dec. Clay Strawn (Maryville), 3-2 in overtime;
220 -- Peyton Demos (Huntsville) dec. Tristan Majors (Bearden), 4-2 in overtime;
285 -- Bruno Reagan (Clarksville) pinned Zach Miller (Walker Valley), 1:33.
CONSOLATION FINALS FOR THIRD PLACE
106 -- Braxton Worthington (Mortimer Jordan) dec. Raymond Eason (Father Ryan), 7-4;
113 -- Evan Huling (Halls) pinned Cleveland Cyree (Tulllahoma), 1:40;
120 -- Knox Fuller (Bradley) dec. Luke Mullin (Notre Dame), 5-2;
126 -- Matthew Spradlin (Heritage) dec. Michael Brobeck (Blackman), 2-0;
132 -- Jared Frazier (Father Ryan) pinned Spencer Griffey (East Ridge), 2:48;
138 -- Cole Chancey (Commerce) dec. David Garabrandt (Bearden), 7-4;
145 -- Joe Fox (Halls) dec. Matthew Sells (Blackman), 5-2;
152 -- Ryan Simpson (Father Ryan) dec. Ryan Hager (Walker Valley), 10-3;
160 -- Patrick Dooley (Franklin) pinned Nick Naughton (Father Ryan), 1:49;
170 -- Greyson Cochran (Commerce) dec. Nathan Adams (Bradley), 2-0;
182 -- Billy Raulston (Walker Valley) dec. Cody Skinner (Mortimer Jordan), 3-2'
195 -- Kiel Russell (Clarksville) dec. Ric Kennett (Walker Valley), 5-3;
220 -- Jeb Davis (Heritage) dec. Matt Franko (Scottsboro), 6-3;
285 -- C.J. Baker (East Ridge) dec. Sam Stephenson (Chattanooga Central), 3-2.
CONSOLATION FINALS FOR FIFTH PLACE
106 -- Tanner Justice (Halls) major dec. Adam Rogers (Tullahoma), 11-2;
113 -- Jack Shrader (Franklin) dec. Josh Thomas (Etowah), 9-2;
120 -- Zach Patterson (Beardon) won by technical fall over Ian McNitt (Hardin Valley), 4:50;
126 -- Calvin Giles (Halls) dec. Isaac Yates (Hixson), 5-3;
132 -- Grant Wallen (Seymour) dec. Grayson Lane (Hixson), 3-1;
138 -- Jovarrus Stegall (Hixson) dec. Stephen Scott (Bradley), 9-2;
145 -- Jon Clegg (Huntsville) won by forfeit over Tyrus Hamrick (Walker Valley);
152 -- Jacob Gerken (Bearden) won by technical fall over Hunter Fortner (Gibbs), 3:45;
160 -- Lawrence Cotton (Walker Valley) pinned Nathan Wilson (Maryville), 3:39;
170 -- Hunter Duiff (Father Ryan) won by forfeit over Sam Howard (Huntsville);
182 -- Josh Spangler (Tennessee High) dec. Cody Gregory (William Blount), 6-2;
195 -- Houston Hooker (Father Ryan) dec. Xavier Satterfield (William Blount), 7-4;
220 -- Alex Weatherford (Franklin) dec. Ben Stacey (Father Ryan), 3-2;
285 -- Austin Wells (Blackman) pinned Tyler Coppinger (Heritage), 2:44.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)