CLEVELAND, Tenn. – It was Senior Night on Tuesday at Cleveland High School’s Raider Dome as they honored those young men and women in their final year as wrestlers and cheerleaders, but they also had an important wrestling match that captured most of the attention and it created more than enough to be cheerful about.
It was the annual battle between Cleveland and arch-rival Bradley.
The host Blue Raiders are the defending champions for the state duals and the traditional state tournament and are currently the top-ranked public school and second overall behind Baylor. The Bears aren’t as strong as they normally are, but are still ranked fourth in that latest state poll.
Action began at 120 pounds and the Bears responded with three straight wins, including an 11-2 major decision from Wes Devaney followed by regular decisions from Daniel Mroz and Gavin Hughes, but the rest of the even belonged to the Blue Raiders as they won the next 11 matches and won going away.
The final score was 54-10.
“I was a little nervous at the start because this is always a big event for both schools and the entire community, but we started off in a rough spot before we got rolling in the right direction,” said Cleveland coach Joey Knox after his team had improved to 23-1 for the season.
“We were able to win a couple of key matches at 160 and 170. Zach Brezna is just now getting down to 160, but he gutted it out and found a way to win. And that win by Ashton Davis at 170 was huge as he’s just a freshman and he had to go overtime to get it.
“Ben Smith does a good job of moving folks around, but I thought we did a good job of responding and I’m pleased with our effort. Now we have to focus on getting ready for the post-season tournaments,” Knox added.
“We expected to win those first three matches, but I also knew what they had coming,” said Bradley’s Smith after his team lost for the sixth time in 23 matches.
“Cleveland is on an upswing right now, so I knew we’d have a tough time maintaining our early momentum. We just tried to bump and run the best we could, but I thought both of those matches at 160 and 170 were winnable for us.
“Our effort was solid and that hasn’t always been the case in earlier matches, but we were in a whole lot more matches than Cleveland wanted. We have absolutely no reason to hang our heads as we didn’t back down, but there were some spots where we were clearly outmatched.
“We still have a lot of wrestling left, so we’ll keep working hard and see what happens,” Smith nodded.
Logan Whiteside got Cleveland’s first win with a 35-second pin at 138 while Grant Lundy followed with a technical fall at 145 for an 11-10 lead for the Blue Raiders and it never got any closer.
Austin Sweeney, Dylan Jones, Wilson Benefield, Titus Swafford and Trae McDaniel all had pins for Cleveland while Jackson Bradford put the final icing on the cake with a third-period technical fall at 113 in the final match of the evening.
Isaiah Perez was Cleveland’s other winner as he joined Brezna and Davis with a 7-3 regular decision at 195.
CLEVELAND 54, BRADLEY 10
(Match began at 120 pounds)
106 – Trae McDaniel (Clev) pinned Ethan Wilson, 5:08;
113 – Jackson Bradford (Clev) won by technical fall over Glen O’Daniel, 5:11;
120 – Wes Devaney (Brad) major dec. Blake Randall, 11-2;
126 – Daniel Mroz (Brad) dec. Burns Meagher, 5-0;
132 – Gavin Hughes (Brad) dec. Garrett Stevenson, 5-3;
138 – Logan Whiteside (Clev) pinned Carson Parker, :35;
145 – Grant Lundy (Clev) won by technical fall over Sebastian Hernandez, 5:11;
152 – Austin Sweeney (Clev) pinned Brant Falls, 2:53;
160 – Zach Brezna (Clev) dec. Seth Gerena, 6-5;
170 – Ashton Davis (Clev) dec. Tyrone McDonald, 7-5 in overtime;
182 – Dylan Jones (Clev) pinned Trey Johnson, 1:05;
195 – Isaiah Perez (Clev) dec. D.J. Gibson, 7-3;
220 – Wilson Benefield (Clev) pinned Gavin Sewell, 3:06;
285 – Titus Swafford (Clev) pinned Austin McClure, 2:19.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)