FRANKLIN -- The team titles were all wrapped up before Saturday night's championship finals in the TSSAA State Wrestling Tournaments for both the A-AA and AAA divisions.
Cleveland had a nice lead over Wilson Central and coasted to the AAA title with 215 points while the Wildcats were a distant second with 166.5. Bradley Central was third with 141 while Ravenwood and Soddy Daisy rounded out the top five teams with 132 and 120.5 points, respectively.
Hixson was victorious in the A-AA competition, but the Wildcats had to hope and pray that they got a little help so they could hold off the fast charging Alcoa Tornadoes.
Hixson didn't score a point in the championship finals, but they made their move during the earlier consolation rounds as they overcame a 29-point deficit to finish with 163.5 points.
Alcoa trailed Hixson by 26.5 points going into the finals, but the Tornadoes could only score 18 and fell short with 155. Pigeon Forge was third with 134.5 before a string of Chattanooga teams followed, including Notre Dame with 95.5, East Ridge with 85.5, Central with 77 and Red Bank and Signal Mountain tied for seventh with 72 points apiece.
"I wasn't sure it was even possible for us to win at the start of the day, but we battled back and got bonus points in most of our matches and we showed what kind of character we have," said Hixson coach Garrick Hall later.
Hixson started the day 28.5 points back, but the Wildcats won eight of nine in the consolation semis and ended up scoring 62.5 points on the day.
"That's what you call a comeback. We had a horrible semifinal round Friday night and were really down, but we didn't show it. It was all about these kids placing as high as they could and that's what it took. We knew that the only way we could lose going into the finals was for Dylan Bargerstock to get disqualified and lose all his points, so we told him he had to behave," Hall added.
Bargerstock finished second at 182 after Cedrick Harris (113), Grayson Layne (132), Landon Goforth (152), McKenzie Martin (195) and Brody Gregory (285) all finished third. Isaac Yates (126), Jovarrus Stegall (138) and Chris Nicholson (170) all finished fourth while Spencer Groves finished fifth at 106.
Alcoa's Samson Evans was voted the A-AA Outstanding Wrestler after recording a second-period pin over Signal Mountain's Micah Pressley at 220.
The 145-pound final between Notre Dame's Noah Bankston and Avery Martin of MLK earned Best Match honors after Bankston won by a 4-3 decision with a late takedown.
Alcoa and Notre Dame had the most champions in the A-AA tournament with three apiece.
Alcoa's three included Nathaniel Murphy at 120, Karim Shereef at 152 and Evans. All three earned the maximum team points in the finals with pins, but it wasn't enough to catch Hixson.
Notre Dame's three winners included the Mullin brothers -- sophomore Luke at 113 and junior Packy at 132 -- and Bankston at 145. Ironically, Dr. Chris Mullin is the father of those first two studs and he was a two-time state champ for the Fighting Irish, winning at 138 in 1984 and then at 145 in 1985.
East Ridge was the only other team with multiple champs and the Pioneers had two, including DeAngelo Johnson at 170 and C.J. Baker at 285.
Other A-AA champions included Gavin Hutchins of Pigeon Forge at 106, Greeneville's Jon Boatman at 126, Red Bank's Gabe McDuffie at 138, Michael Long of Christian Academy of Knoxville at 160, Signal Mountain's Cale Shelton at 182 and Tyler McClendon of Forrest at 195.
There wasn't nearly as much suspense in the AAA race as Cleveland locked up their third-straight traditional title long before the first championship match began.
The Blue Raiders put five in the finals and left with two champions, including Christopher Debien at 126 and Ethan West at 195. Austin Stevison (132), Ezra Taylor (138) and Josh Hamilton (170) all finished second.
Cleveland finished the weekend with 10 medalists with Aaron Oliver (152) and John Gaither (285) fourth, Triston Blansit (113) and Koran Kennedy (220) fifth and William Haas sixth at 145.
"I'm doing well as our kids did extremely well" said Cleveland coach Jake Yost after all the excitement had died down a bit.
"Some state championships are sweeter than others, but we had high expectations and my guys reached most of them. To have five in the finals and 10 in the medals is a nice accomplishment, but it was also heartbreaking for a few of them.
"Austin, Ezra and Josh all lost to some really good kids and Josh was leading 3-2 before getting reversed with about 25 seconds to lose 4-3. Mathematically, we had it locked up, so there was no pressure on anyone, but we were still focused on winning those five individual matches.
"And I'm really proud of Christopher Debien. He seems to like this tournament," he praised his three-time champ who is still just a junior.
Wilson Central and Bradley joined Cleveland with two champions each.
Winning for Wilson Central was Austin Richard at 132 and John Kramer at 220. Richard improved to 64-1 with his win over Stevison while Kramer is now 62-2 and the son of the Wildcat coach.
Bradley's two winners included junior Toribio Navarro at 113 and freshman Knox Fuller at 120. Navarro was the winner at 106 last year. Freshman Ryan McElhaney was the runner-up at 106 while junior Brett Brown was sixth at 182.
"I'm selfish as I wanted all three to win, but two out of three isn't bad," said Bradley coach Ben Smith.
"We had a pretty good weekend. I wasn't real happy with the way things started on Thursday, but I'm proud of the way our bigger guys battled back and kept us in the tournament. Overall I'm happy," Smith added.
Other AAA champions included Dillan Friesner of Independence at 106, Soddy Daisy's Tucker Russo at 138, Brentwood's Luke Hamilton at 145. Ravenwood's Taylor Warren at 152, Franklin's Patrick Dooley at 160, Riverdale's Sean Kennedy at 170, Maryville's Chad Solomon at 182 and Clarksville's Bruno Reagan at 285.
Kennedy and Solomon both finished unbeaten as Kennedy is now 41-0 while Solomon is now 52-0. Reagan was also the 285-pound champ last year.
Soddy Daisy coach Jim Higgins was just happy that the season finished on a high note for his Trojans.
"I feel good as we've worked really hard this year and made a lot of progress. I know it's hard to see at times, but I'm just happy that we finished with a lot fight. We're really excited for Tucker, especially after finishing fourth last year at 126. He's a driven young man and a very talented wrestler. To see him get what he's been chasing all year was really rewarding," Higgins added.
AAA FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. Cleveland 215; 2. Wilson Central 166.5; 3. Bradley 141; 4. Ravenwood 132; 5. Soddy Daisy 120.5; 6. Franklin 108.5; 7. Heritage 102; 8. Clarksville 98.5; 9. Cookeville 96.5; 10. Blackman 84.5; 11. Walker Valley 84; 31. East Hamilton 31; 57. Rhea County 7; 61. Ooltewah 6.
AAA CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
106 -- Dillan Friesner (Independence) dec. Ryan McElhaney (Bradley), 5-0;
113 -- Toribio Navarro (Bradley) dec. Nick Crawford (Heritage), 6-2;
120 -- Knox Fuller (Bradley) pinned Murphy Elkins (Cookeville), 2:47;
126 -- Christopher Debien (Cleveland) pinned Lane Dickeson (Wilson Central), 1:12;
132 -- Austin Richards (Wilson Central) dec. Austin Stevison (Cleveland), 7-4;
138 -- Tucker Russo (Soddy Daisy) dec. Ezra Taylor (Cleveland), 4-2;
145 -- Luke Hamilton (Brentwood) pinned Gage Richmond (Soddy Daisy), 3:57;
152 -- Taylor Warren (Ravenwood) dec. Charles Frye (Dobyns-Bennett), 8-2;
160 -- Patrick Dooley (Franklin) dec. Robin Klingensmith (Ravenwood), 9-6;
170 -- Sean Kennedy (Riverdale) dec. Josh Hamilton (Cleveland), 4-3;
182 -- Chad Solomon (Maryville) dec. Billy Raulston (Walker Valley), 5-2;
195 -- Ethan West (Cleveland) dec. Kiel Russell (Clarksville), 9-7;
220 -- John Kramer (Wilson Central) dec. Rex Shotts (Ravenwood), 5-4;
285 -- Bruno Reagan (Clarksville) pinned Austin Wells (Blackman), 2:19.
AAA CONSOLATION FINALS FOR THIRD PLACE
106 -- Tanner Justice (Knox Halls) pinned Briar Potter (East Hamilton), 2:04;
113 -- Evan Huling (Knox Halls) dec. Jack Shrader (Franklin), 8-5;
120 -- Kyle Lee (Franklin) pinned Jacob McClure (Soddy Daisy), :44;
126 -- Clarence Mathis (Antioch) dec. Corbin Hurley (Tennessee), 7-2;
132 -- Chris Rowland (Ravenwood) dec. Ayinde Bakari (Blackman), 5-0;
138 -- Delrico Bowen (Northeast) dec. Josh Feuerbacher (Blackman), 7-5;
145 -- Connor Gordon (Rossview) dec. Brandon Patton (Centennial), 5-1;
152 -- Mike Binns (Wilson Central) dec. Aaron Oliver (Cleveland), 5-3;
160 -- Austin Hammonds (Cookeville) dec. Tyler Sells (Blackman), 1-0;
170 -- Alan D'Alessandro (Clarksville) dec. Kaleb Rippy (Beech), 2-1;
182 -- Hamza Yunis (Kenwood) pinned Cade Smith (Ravenwood), :40;
195 -- Schuyler Larue (Heritage) dec. Hunter Bagley (Science Hill), 6-1;
220 -- Josh Filbey (Franklin) pinned Jebediah Davis (Heritage), 2:35;
285 -- Nick Boykin (Riverdale) pinned John Gaither (Cleveland), 2:26.
AAA CONSOLATION FINALS FOR FIFTH PLACE
106 -- Chris Poore (Seymour) won by forfeit over Drake Haney (Walker Valley);
113 -- Triston Blansit (Cleveland) major dec. Salih Musa (Overton), 10-0;
120 -- Christopher Cerrito (Wilson Central) won by injury default over Devan Cyree (Tullahoma);
126 -- Kue Htoo (Overton) won by injury default over Zackrey Wilkins (Mt. Juliet);
132 -- Michael Diemer (Heritage) dec. Christian Ocon (Overton), 5-1;
138 -- David Garabrandt (Bearden) dec. Elan McCasland (Beech), 10-4;
145 -- Beau Badon (Dickson Co.) dec. William Haas (Cleveland), 7-0;
152 -- Austin Williamson (Soddy Daisy) dec. Danyon Edens (Mt. Juliet), 8-4;
160 -- Joseph Begley (Dobyns-Bennett) dec. Dominico Bowen (Northeast), 8-1;
170 -- Macon Webster (Dickson Co.) won by disqualification over Dmitry Searle (Brentwood);
182 -- Gheorghe Meyer (Franklin) dec. Brett Brown (Bradley), 4-0;
195 -- Trent Cumby (Cookeville) won by injury default over Clay Strawn (Maryville);
220 -- Koran Kennedy (Cleveland) pinned Bryce Bush (Antioch), 3:47;
285 -- Jeff Benson (Oakland) dec. Zach Miller (Walker Valley), 3-1.
FINAL A-AA TEAM SCORES
1. Hixson 163.5; 2. Alcoa 155; 3. Pigeon Forge 134.5; 4. Notre Dame 95.5; 5. East Ridge 85.5; 6. Chattanooga Central 77; 7. Red Bank and Signal Mountain tied with 72; 9. Greeneville 69; 10. East Nashville; 19. Brainerd 21; 21. Lookout Valley 20; 31. Silverdale 6.
A-AA CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
106 -- Gavin Hutchins (Pigeon Forge) pinned Trent Comeaux (Red Bank), 1:07;
113 -- Luke Mullin (Notre Dame) pinned Warren Weaver (Signal Mountain), 3:06;
120 -- Nathaniel Murphy (Alcoa) pinned Trent Walliser (Lookout Valley), 1:19;
126 -- Jon Boatman (Greeneville) dec. Seth Douglas (Sycamore), 6-1;
132 -- Packy Mullin (Notre Dame) dec. Josh Vance (Greeneville), 8-1;
138 -- Gabe McDuffie (Red Bank) pinned Austyn Renshaw (Alcoa), 5:06;
145 -- Noah Bankston (Notre Dame) dec. Avery Martin (Martin Luther King), 4-3;
152 -- Karim Shereef (Alcoa) pinned Xavier Norwood (Chattanooga Central), 3:15;
160 -- Michael Long (Christian Academy Knoxville) dec. Caleb Berg (Sullivan), 9-2;
170 -- DeAngelo Johnson (East Ridge) dec. Devin Crawl (Red Bank), 12-8;
182 -- Cale Shelton (Signal Mountain) pinned Dylan Bargerstock (Hixson), 2:42;
195 -- Tyler McClendon (Forrest) pinned Truman Martin (Chattanooga Central), 3:39;
220 -- Samson Evans (Alcoa) pinned Micah Pressley (Signal Mountain), 3:57;
285 -- C.J. Baker (East Ridge) pinned Luis Soto (Knoxville Catholic), 3:06.
A-AA CONSOLATION FINALS FOR THIRD PLACE
106 -- Hunter Owens (East Ridge) pinned Ned Warwick (Notre Dame), 3:49;
113 -- Cedrick Harris (Hixson) dec. Ellis Dodson (Eagleville), 7-6;
120 -- Matthew Kieta (Pigeon Forge) dec. Hayden Hammonds (Eagleville), 4-0;
126 -- Ryan Verhulst (Alcoa) dec. Isaac Yates (Hixson), 1-0;
132 -- Grayson Layne (Hixson) major dec. Bryson Lemons (Chatt. Central), 9-0;
138 -- Tyler Christian (Harpeth) dec. Jovarrus Stegall (Hixson), 4-3;
145 -- Alonso Heyward (Chatt. Central) dec. Isaac Frye (Pigeon Forge), 5-2;
152 -- Landon Goforth (Hixson) dec. Todd Hargis (Knoxville Grace), 6-0;
160 -- Emannuel Holt (East Nashville) pinned Xavier Bohannon (Pigeon Forge), 1:59;
170 -- James Hughes (Stratford) dec. Chris Nicholson (Hixson), 6-3 in overtime;
182 -- Nelson Elliott (Sullivan East) dec. Nathan Breeden (Pigeon Forge), 3-1;
195 -- McKenzie Martin (Hixson) dec. Javon Cross (White House), 9-4;
220 -- Corey Cantrell (White House) dec. Nicholas Hilley (Pigeon Forge), 6-4;
285 -- Brody Gregory (Hixson) dec. Sedric Jordan (Brainerd), 4-3 in overtime.
A-AA CONSOLATION FINALS FOR FIFTH PLACE
106 -- Spencer Groves (Hixson) dec. Seth Malone (Elizabethton), 4-2;
113 -- Austin Gilley (West Greene) major dec. Jacob Ruiter (Pigeon Forge), 17-8;
120 -- Eric Foster (Stratford) dec. Cage Hargrove (Forrest), 4-2;
126 -- Jason Fennell (Harpeth) dec. Austin Saporito (Knox. Grace), 7-0;
132 -- Carlos Aguilla (Stratford) pinned Spencer Griffy (East Ridge), 3:50;
138 -- Gary Reagan (Pigeon Forge) won by forfeit over Caleb Arp (Greenback);
145 -- George Hooker (Alcoa) dec. Andrew Birchett (Page), 3-2;
152 -- Philip Nichols (CAK) dec. Andrew Solomon (Eagleville), 5-1;
160 -- Michael Johnson (Knox. Grace) dec. Joe Kamp (Fairview), 5-1;
170 -- Dwayne Herelle (Pearl) dec. Denzell Robinson (Brainerd), 6-4;
182 -- Austin Browne (White House) pinned Matt McCulley (Silverdale), 2:23;
195 -- Josh Ortiz-Derrick (Fairview) dec. Nicholas Kali (Alcoa), 3-2;
220 -- Bryson Knight (Greeneville) pinned Richie Lowery (South Greene), 4:27;
285 -- Luis Soto (Knox. Catholic) pinned Seth Fiegler (Alcoa), 3:47.
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)