Bradley and Baylor have had two of the best wrestling teams in the state in recent years and both have numerous state titles to prove it.
They are in different classifications these days, but they always meet each other at the beginning of the season with most being really close and competitive matches.
That wasn’t the case at Baylor’s Jimmy Duke Arena Thursday night.
The host Red Raiders were ready when the first whistle blew. The Bears were not.
Bradley brought 18 cheerleaders to the match, but they didn't have a whole lot to cheer about as Baylor was quicker, stronger and appeared to be much more motivated.
The final score proved it as the Red Raiders won 10 of the 14 matches and prevailed in a runaway, 53-17.
Baylor remains unbeaten after five matches while the Bears are now 11-2 on the young season. Both will be competing in the Cleveland Duals on Saturday.
Both coaches know that wrestling season is long and grueling. Most say it’s all preparation for the post-season tournaments as that’s where you want to be peaking and performing at your best.
No doubt these two teams will be in the thick of the race in Franklin come mid-February, but Baylor was far superior in the first week of December.
“Our guys did well and I’m really proud of how we fought,” said winning coach Ben Nelson.
“We felt like we had the advantage going in, so the main thing I was looking for was a hard effort from start to finish. I’m sure that results might be different if we wrestled later in the season, but I’m happy to walk out of here tonight with a win.
“We’ve been working hard these past few months waiting for the season to get here. For these guys to get a win here at home was special as we were motivated. Every young man did his job and that’s all I was asking for,” Nelson added.
Bradley coach Ben Smith has never been one to back down from a tough challenge. He might get criticized by other public school coaches for wrestling a private school like Baylor, but Smith’s been around long enough to know you only get better by wrestling teams better than you.
“That’s about what I expected. Baylor has always been one of the better teams in the state and we knew coming down here today that it would be tough,” Smith began his post-match comments.
“Baylor has a solid lineup while we’re still trying to figure out who we are, but I think we’re a better team than we showed. Baylor has a bunch of head-hunters and they will have another great season, but a match like this has no bearing whatsoever on our state title hopes.
“This was a great opportunity for my guys to wrestle a big match in a hostile environment. Tonight we took a pretty good whipping, but this loss doesn’t define us at all. We’ll keep working hard and I can promise you we’ll be better on down the road,” Smith concluded.
Garrison Dendy needed just 65 seconds to get Baylor’s first pin as the Red Raiders won five of the first seven matches all by pins to grab a 30-7 lead following Connor Duffy’s win at 182.
Andrew Pace, Barrett Chambers, Mason Reiniche and Matthew Smith added pins for the Red Raiders while David Harper, Jackson Bond and Noah Horst all had major decisions. Trey Bates had a technical fall at 113 as Baylor collected bonus points in all 10 wins.
Taron Gosnell had Bradley’s only pin at 120 while Sebastion Hernandez and Gavin Sewell both had major decisions. Parker Falls had a regular decision at 152.
While four of Baylor’s five pins came in the first period, none were any quicker than Reiniche, who needed just 45 seconds to prevail at 170.
BAYLOR 53, BRADLEY 17
(Match began at 132 Pounds)
106 – Jackson Bond (Bay) major dec. Ethan Wilson, 13-4;
113 – Trey Bates (Bay) won by technical fall over Glen O’Daniel, 5:53;
120 – Taron Gosnell (Brad) pinned Jacob Weekley, 1:00;
126 – Noah Hurst (Bay) major dec. Daniel Mroz, 12-1;
132 – Garrison Dendy (Bay) pinned Waymond Cooper, 1:05;
138 – Sebastion Hernandez (Brad) major dec. Clayton Pettway, 10-0;
145 – Andrew Pace (Bay) pinned Alex Dees, 1:00;
152 – Parker Falls (Brad) dec. William Collins, 9-4;
160 – Barrett Chambers (Bay) pinned Seth Gerena, 2:38;
170 – Mason Reiniche (Bay) pinned Skylar Bradley, :45;
182 – Connor Duffy (Bay) pinned Larry Johnson, 1:41;
195 – David Harper (Bay) major dec. D.J. Gibson, 9-0;
220 – Gavin Sewell (Brad) major dec. Alex Robinson, 8-0;
285 – Matthew Smith (Bay) pinned Austin McClure, 1:12.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)