FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Chattanooga-area wrestling teams didn’t dominate the TSSAA traditional state tournament this weekend like they have in the past, but they were better than average and still had a lot to celebrate.
All three teams that won titles in the State Duals here at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park came back to win again this time, including Cleveland in AAA, Gibbs in A-AA and Christian Brothers in D-II.
The Blue Raiders, who had a great season under first-year head coach Joey Knox, finished the three-day event with 189 points and one champ while Gibbs tallied 179 points with four champs.
Christian Brothers held off hard-charging McCallie to win with 227 points and three champs while the Blue Tornado had five individual winners and were second with 204.
“Two for two isn’t bad, but my heart breaks for those young men who don’t reach their goal of winning a state championship,” Cleveland coach Joey Knox said after his team won both state titles his first year as their head coach.
“We only had one champion, but we have a lot of guys who wrestled with grit, are really tough and who believe in themselves. That was really important for us, but we just have to figure out a way to get more guys on the top of the podium next year. We’ll go back to work on Monday with intent on getting better,” Knox said after the championship hardware had been distributed.
Christian Brothers had a 35.5 point lead over McCallie going into the finals and while the Blue Tornado emerged with five champs to only three for the Purple Wave, that lead was just a bit too much for McCallie to overcome.
Coach Mike Newman was still happier than a kid at Christmas after his Blue Tornado finished with a bang.
“We got after it and had some fun, but all wrestled great and I couldn’t be more proud,” Newman expressed.
“We went out there and competed as hard as we could and were able to get some positive results. We gave ourselves a chance to win and that’s all I was looking for,” Newman nodded.
Gibbs and Forrest finished 1-2 in the A-AA tournament, but Hixson’s Garrick Hall had bittersweet feelings once everything had been completed.
He was thrilled that his team came back to finish third after graduating most of his team from a year ago, but he was heartbroken that all three of his finalists had to settle for the runner-up spot in their respective weight classes.
“I was disappointed in the finals as you always want to do better. The kids really wrestled hard. They just didn’t prevail, but it wasn’t like we went out there and laid down. The good news is that all will be back next year.
“But if you had told me back in October that we’d finish third in this tournament, I would have said you were lying. But we had a bunch of young guys get some valuable experience this weekend and we’ll be back,” Hall smiled.
Smyrna’s Cameron Henderson nipped Chase Brown of Knoxville Halls by a tight 5-3 decision in overtime and that match was voted as the Best Match for AAA. Henderson was honored again a few minutes later after being named the Outstanding Wrestler for his classification after compiling a 51-6 overall record.
Signal Mountain’s Daniel Uhorchuk and Fulton’s Elijah Davis shared OW honors in A-AA. Both were undefeated with records of 28-0 and 39-0 respectively after winning titles at 106 and 152. Uhorchuk won with a first-period pin while Davis won by technical fall in six minutes.
The 138-pound final between Sycamore’s Tyree Bass and Hixson’s Jordan Lewis was voted Best Match in A-AA after Bass emerged with an 8-7 decision.
Baylor’s Mason Reiniche was voted the Outstanding Wrestler in D-II after winning his second state title in three years. The 182-pound final where Baylor’s Riley Westlake beat MBA’s Dominic Fisher with a 3-1 decision was voted Best Match in D-II.
McCallie led the way for local teams with five champs while Baylor had three. Gibbs had the most winners in A-AA with four while Wilson Central and Science Hill both had two to lead the way in AAA.
Cleveland’s Austin Sweeney (152) and Soddy Daisy’s Ty Boeck (220) were the only winners in AAA while Signal Mountain’s Uhorchuk was the only local winner in A-AA.
McCallie’s five champs included Christian Morris at 106, Emory Taylor at 113, Cody Chittum at 120, Alex Whitworth at 126 and Thomas Sell at 170 while Baylor’s individual winners included Andrew Pace at 138, Reiniche at 160 and Westlake at 182.
The three-defending team champs were never a factor this weekend.
Bradley finished sixth in AAA with 110 points. The Bears only had three medalists and for the first time in a long time, nobody in the championship finals.
Pigeon Forge was sixth in the A-AA battle with 104 points while Father Ryan was fourth in D-II with 100.5 points.
In addition Sweeney, Cleveland’s other medalists included a second-place finish for Trae McDaniel at 106 and third places for Bryce Pond (126), Cody Mathews (145) and Jack Hicks (182). Logan Whiteside was fourth at 138, Dylan Jones fifth at 170 and Jackson Bradford sixth at 113.
Te’Nario Thomas of East Hamilton finished fifth at 113.
Other medalists in Division II included Boyd-Buchanan’s Will Watkins, who was third at 195.
Other medalists for McCallie included Zach Ward (132) and Walker Robinson (195) with seconds, Hayden Rowland (160) in third, Chase Looper (220) fifth and Mason Hughes (138) sixth.
Notre Dame didn’t have any champions, but Cade Holloway was second at 113, Grant Speer was third at 138 while teammates Harrison Nichol was fourth at 120 and James Boyd fifth at 195.
Ethan Madaris was fourth at 106 for Chattanooga Christian while George Hutchinson (160) and Adam Truelove (182) were both sixth for the Chargers.
Baylor’s additional medalists included Hayden Hartline (132) and Alex Atchley (152) in third, Sam Reynolds fourth at 195 and the trio of Hunter Bankes (106), Jacob Weekley (120) and Stephen Morgan (220) all taking fifth.
Other medal winners in A-AA included Hixson and Signal Mountain with five each while Red Bank, East Ridge and Sequatchie County with three each, Whitwell with two and Sale Creek and Central with one apiece.
Hixson had three in the finals, but came away with three seconds as Trevor Lewis (113), Charles Burton (120) and Jordan Lewis (138) all had to settle for the runner-up spot. Devotis McCurdy was third at 285 while Jeremiah Shackleford was fourth at 132.
In addition to Uhorchuk’s victory, the Eagles got a third from Preston Worley at 145, fourths from Isaac Tate (113) and Kevin Muschel (126) while Kale Albritton was fifth at 120.
Red Bank’s three included Christopher Cagle in fourth at 120 while teammates Jonah Bird (160) and Jackson Hash (182) were both fifth.
Daniel Hodges was third at 160 for East Ridge while Kashawn Cosey was fifth at 138 and Darian Smith sixth at 182. Sequatchie had Will Keener (138) and Cameron Weaver (152) both in fourth while James Brock was fifth at 132.
James Headrick was fifth at 285 for Whitwell while teammate Allen Ashworth was sixth at 170.
Central’s Haiden Dill was third at 113, but it was a bittersweet day for the Purple Pounder junior. His grandfather Kenneth Dill had come to watch his grandson wrestle on Saturday, only to have a fatal heart attack before the action began.
Sale Creek’s Kaleb Penny was sixth at 220.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)