CLEVELAND, Tenn. – There have been matches between arch rivals Bradley and Cleveland that went down to the final seconds of the final match before a winner was determined.
There have been other times when the outcome was determined early and there was no added drama at the end.
The top-ranked and once-beaten Blue Raiders won this year’s clash at Bradley’s Jim Smiddy Arena and it was never a contest.
Cleveland won the first four matches and never looked back as they pounded the defending state champion Bears by a 44-9 final.
It was a classic case of the better team winning in a dominating fashion. The Blue Raiders won the close ones and they also won the ones not so close as they improved to 24-1 with their 22nd straight dual-meet victory.
“It’s been a while, but everyone did a great job and we were able to get on a roll,” said Cleveland coach Joey Knox after claiming his first win over the Bears in his first shot.
“I thought Wilson Benefield wrestled his best match of the year as he was in control the whole way. We had a strategy for every weight class and it worked. Now we just need to take this kind of focus to the state duals.
“It was a big match for us, no doubt about it and by far our biggest win of the season so far. We wrestled with a lot of heart from start to finish as all gave us their best effort. That’s all I could ask,” Knox nodded.
Benefield got Cleveland off on the right foot with a hard-fought 3-1 decision over Kevin Gentry, a state medalist last year.
Titus Swafford and Jackson Bradford wrapped pins around a major decision by Trey McDaniel at 106 and the difference was 19-0 after four weight classes.
Daniel Mroz broke the streak for the Bears with a 9-2 decision at 120, but the Blue Raiders ended any thought of a comeback by winning the next five matches.
Seth Gerena got Bradley’s second win with a 5-0 decision at 160 before Bradley’s Henley Headrick beat Dylan Jones at 170 in the most highly-anticipated match of the evening. Jones had won twice last year, but Headrick led from the start and never backed down.
Jack Hicks got Cleveland’s final pin at 182 for a 44-9 lead and that was the final score after a double forfeit was called at 195.
Bradley’s D.J. Gibson and Cleveland’s Logan Strickland were in a scoreless tie in the first minute of the match, but emotions rose to the surface when they went out of bounds and both coaches agreed to forfeit to prevent any further damage.
The Bears are still looking for that magic that helped them win both state titles last year. They had to replace a lot valuable individuals and Bradley coach Ben Smith knew that this match had the potential for a blowout.
“Well, I knew from the start it could be like that. I figured at best case scenario, we might win seven or eight and that we might only win three or four otherwise.
“We gave up a lot of bonus points and we also lost all four close decisions. We just didn’t look like we wanted to win as we wrestled like a team that didn’t believe in themselves.
“There’s no need for a pep talk before a match like this and there was no hype for Cleveland as we knew they were really good. I’m hoping they made us better tonight, but this isn’t a district match and the one next week at Soddy Daisy will be the big one,” he said, knowing the loser of that match will most likely have to face the Blue Raiders in the semifinals of the Region Duals, which will be at Bradley on Jan. 25.
While Cleveland improves to 23-1 overall, Bradley is now 14-6 following Thursday’s loss.
SODDY DAISY GOT five pins in a 48-21 victory at Walker Valley Thursday night.
Ty Boeck, Jacob Allen, Dylan Caldwell, Hayden Maynor and Thomas Faires all win by pins for the Trojans while Tyler King and Joey Vecchione had pins for the Mustangs.
CLEVELAND 44, BRADLEY 9
(Match Began At 220 Pounds)
106 – Trey McDaniel (Cl) major dec. Glen O’Daniel, 17-5;
113 – Jackson Bradford (Cl) pinned Wesley Devaney, 5:12;
120 – Daniel Mroz (Brad) dec. Burns Meagher, 9-2;
126 – Bryce Pond (Cl) major dec. Gaven Hughes, 11-3;
132 – Jayce Mullin (Cl) pinned Alex Dees, 1:43;
138 – Logan Whiteside (Cl) dec. Ian Marchese, 6-5;
145 – Cody Mathews (Cl) dec. Andy Robinson, 7-2;
152 – Cael Laxton (Cl) dec. Skyler Bradley, 6-4;
160 – Seth Gerena (Brad) dec. Seth Eachus, 5-0;
170 – Henley Headrick (Brad) dec. Dylan Jones, 12-5;
182 – Jack Hicks (Cl) pinned Trey Johnson, 2:32;
195 – Double forfeit.
220 -- Wilson Benefield (Cl) dec. Kevin Gentry, 3-1;
285 -- Titus Swafford (Cl) pinned Gavin Sewell, :31.
SODDY DAISY 48, WALKER VALLEY 21
(Match Began At 182 Pounds)
106 – Jacob Allen (SD) pinned Karson Huff, :34;’
113 – Chandler Davis (WV) dec. Cole Prestwoodk, 6-2;
120 – James Jur (WV) dec. Jacob Pratt, 7-6;
126 – Dylan Caldwell (SD) pinned Alex McCord, 3:21;
132 – Tyler King (WV) pinned Seth Johnson, 3:00;
138 – Landon Lewis (SD) won by technical fall over Chris Johnson, 2:00;
145 – Tony Wilson (SD) major dec. Zeth Haynie, 14-5;
152 – Joey Vecchione (WV) pinned Bobby Vincent, 1:30;
160 – Hayden Maynor (SD) pinned Heath Tanksley, 1:44;
170 – Thomas Faires (SD) pinned Kallum Lowe, 4:00;
182 – Curtis Settles (SD) won by forfeit;
195 – Cody Duggan (WV) dec. Brent Settles, 11-7;
220 – Ty Boeck (SD) pinned Nick Buck, 1:59;
285 – Addison Roberts (SD) dec. Brenden Hooker, 4-2.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)