CLEVELAND -- The fourth-ranked Soddy Daisy Trojans came close in their wrestling match with top-ranked Cleveland here at the Jones Wrestling Center Thursday night, but it wasn't close enough. Unfortunately, close doesn't count for much on the mat.
Getting a pin from two-time defending state champ Chris Debien in the final match of the evening, the defending state champion Blue Raiders slipped past the never-say-die Trojans by a 39-33 final in a clash where both teams won seven matches.
When it got right down to the nitty-gritty, Cleveland had more bonus points and that was the difference.
The Blue Raiders finished the evening with four pins, a forfeit, a technical fall and a major decision while Soddy Daisy countered with three pins, a technical fall, a major decision and two regular decisions.
"I feel good about what I saw tonight," said Cleveland coach Jake Yost after his guys had improved to 6-1 with the hard-fought victory.
"It's still early and we still have a whole lot to work on, but we're pointing toward February and I feel like we're on our way," he continued, referring to the two state tournaments at the end where his team totally dominated a year ago.
"It's a process and there's always room to improve, but it came down the last match and I felt really good about a two-time state champion going out there with the match on the line. That was a good feeling," Yost continued.
Heavyweight John Gaither and 113-pound Tristan Blansit got the most praise from the soft-spoken Cleveland coach.
"John played football last Friday night and has only practiced for three days while Blansit is a stud who has done everything we ask of him," Yost nodded.
Gaither got a pin in 2:39 while Blansit needed 5:10 to get a technical fall at 213.
But in a match pitting two of the best public school teams in the state against each other, it was well worth the price of admission and simply a preview of what may some great rematches in the coming months.
There were four lead changes while Jacob McClure's 5-2 decision at 120 for Soddy Daisy created the only tie at 33-33.
Austin Stevison and Ezra Taylor gave Cleveland a 12-0 lead with pins in the first two matches at 132 and 138 before the Trojans won four straight to take an 18-12 lead.
Tucker Russo's 13-4 major decsion at 145 was the starting point for the Trojans while Garrett Alexander's 7-6 decision at 170 was the fourth straight win in what turned out to be the best match of the night.
Cleveland's Jonathan Martin had a 4-3 lead after the first period before a reversal by Alexander made it 5-4 with one period remaining. Martin escaped at the 1:31 mark to knot the score at 5-5 before Alexander got the critical takedown with 37 seconds left. Martin then added another escape right before the final buzzer as Alexander hung on for the win.
Cleveland then got a major decision from Josh Hamilton at 182 before Soddy Daisy extended the difference to 24-16 with a pin from Hunter Maynor at 195, the biggest lead of the match for the Trojans.
Ethan West got a forfeit at 220 to make it 24-22 before Gaither gave Cleveland a 28-24 lead with his pin at 285.
Landon Wheaton's first-minute pin at 106 shifted the advantage back to Soddy Daisy at 30-28 before Blansit's technical fall gave Cleveland the upper hand at 33-30.
Jacob McClure's 5-2 decision at 120 knotted the score before Debien's pin to win at 126.
Austin Williamson and Gage Richmond were Soddy Daisy's other two winners with Williamson getting a second-period technical fall at 152 and Richmond a first-period pin at 160.
Soddy Daisy coach Jim Higgins had mixed emotions for a dual meet he felt like his team had a better-than-average shot at winning.
"That was a fun match and a great battle down to the end just like I expected," Higgins began.
"Cleveland looked good as always, but both teams fought hard. Neither team's lineup is set, but we had our share of highs and lows tonight. I just hate to see it when one of our kids doesn't put forth his best effort and I'm sure they would be the first to admit it, but I'm not completely down and out.
"Their pin at 285 was a key while they shaved points at 145. The match at 113 was huge and the one at 138 was big as well," Higgins nodded.
Cleveland is now 6-1 and will be heading to Lake Norman, N.C. this weekend before returning home for a huge dual meet next Friday against Father Ryan on the eve of the Cleveland Duals.
Soddy Daisy will be at home for the next two days, hosting Cookeville on Friday before entertaining Tullahoma and Clarksville on Saturday.
WALKER VALLEY WON its first match of the year at home on Thursday when they whipped East Ridge by a 66-14 final.
The Mustangs, now 1-2, got eight pins, including falls from Drake Haney, Elijah Earls, Joseph Munoz, Tyrus Hamrick, Ryan Hager, Lawrence Cotton, Billy Raulston, Xzayvier Beckingham and Zack Miller.
Brandon Whitley had the only pin for the Pioneers while DeAngelo Johnson also had a technical fall.
CLEVELAND 39, SODDY DAISY 33
(Match started at 132 Pounds)
106 -- Landon Wheaton (SD) pinned Danny Nino, :38;
113 -- Tristan Blansit (Clev) won by technical fall over Mason Blevins, 5:10;
120 -- Jacob McClure (SD) dec. Taylor Bishop, 5-2;
126 -- Chris Debien (Clev) pinned Austin Houser, 4:37;
132 -- Austin Stevison (Clev) pinned Conner Stiles, 2:55;
138 -- Ezra Taylor (Clev) pinned Emory Holcomb, 1:50;
145 -- Tucker Russo (SD) major dec. William Haas, 13-4;
152 -- Austin Williamson (SD) won by technical fall over Eli Isenhower, 2:33;
160 -- Gage Richmond (SD) pinned Aaron Oliver, 1:13;
170 -- Garrett Alexander (SD) dec. Jonathan Martin, 7-6;
182 -- Josh Hamilton (Clev) won by major dec over Tyler Hixson, 15-1;
195 -- Hunter Maynor (SD) pinned Michael Lewis, :53;
220 -- Ethan West (Clev) won by forfeit;
285 -- John Gaither (Clev) pinned Trace McNew, 2:39.
WALKER VALLEY 66, EAST RIDGE 14
(Match began at 195 Pounds)
106 -- Robert Varner (WV) won by forfeit;
113 -- Drake Haney (WV) pinned Logan McDonald, 1:53;
120 -- Elijah Earls (WV) pinned Josh Williams, 1:21;
126 -- Brandon Whitley (ER) pinned Ed Johnson, 1:18;
132 -- Spencer Griffy (ER) dec. Austin Gregory, 4-3;
138 -- Joseph Munoz (WV) pinned Rodrigo Bornfim, :47;
145 -- Tyrus Hamrick (WV) pinned Justin Hitchcock, 2:48;
152 -- Ryan Hager (WV) pinned Andrew Mapp, :28;
160 -- Lawrence Cotton (WV) pinned Matthew Mapp, 1:31;
170 -- DeAngelo Johnson (ER) won by technical fall over Dionte Richardson, 2:20;
182 -- Billy Raulston (WV) pinned Nakota Cul ver, 1:37;
195 -- Ric Kennett (WV) won by forfeit;
220 -- Xzayvier Beckingham (WV) pinned Juan Forte, :51;
285 -- Zach Miller (WV) pinned C.J. Baker in overtime, 6:28.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)