CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The Bradley Bears and the Cleveland Blue Raiders have won more state wrestling titles than all the other public schools combined, so you can just about always be guaranteed of a good match when they meet inside the circle.
Cleveland has had the upper hand in recent matches as the Blue Raiders are the two-time defending state champs in both the duals and traditional tournaments.
These two squared off at Bradley’s Jim Smiddy Arena Thursday night and top-ranked Cleveland won for the fifth straight time as they improved to 11-1 with the 42-27 victory over the third-ranked Bears.
Bradley is now 8-3 following this latest setback.
The match began at 152 pounds, which is right in the middle of Cleveland’s strength. The Blue Raiders got pins in the first four matches and never looked back as they won eight individual matches, including six with pins.
“I was real happy when I found out we were started out at 152 as we’re really strong there. We knew that was a bad place for Bradley to begin,” said Cleveland coach Joey Knox following the match.
“Nate Schilling has been a JV kid for the past three years, so this was his first time wrestling under the lights, but for him to get a first-minute pin was huge and that got us rolling.
“We’re somewhat beat up like a lot of teams at this point in the season, but these guys fight for each other. I really liked our effort as we pushed the pace and hustled back to the center, but it’s all about being a Blue Raider and we talked about that before the match began.
“The match went about the way I expected it to, but you just never know what will happen in a high school match,” Knox nodded.
Bradley coach Ben Smith has been involved in more of these matches than he can count, so he knew that was necessary for his team to have a chance at winning.
“We knew before the match began that bonus points and winning the close ones would be critical. They did both,” Smith began.
“We lost eight matches, including six by pin, so it’s hard to come back from that, but I’m not disappointed. I feel like we left a bunch of points out there. We tried to make the best run we could there at the end. We knew we had to win the last three by pins and weren’t able to do so, but the more we get to wrestle Cleveland, the better for us,” Smith added.
Cael Laxton gave Cleveland the early lead with his second-period pin in the opening match at 152 pounds.
Schilling, Zach Brezna and Te’toe Boyd all followed suit as the difference was 24-0 before Tyrone McDonald won Bradley’s first match with a decision at 195.
Luke Belcher’s pin at 120 got the Bears within a dozen points at 30-18, but never any closer as Cleveland got a third-period pin from Garrett Stevenson in the final match for the 15-point margin of victory.
Trae McDaniel had Cleveland’s other pin while Arlo Laxton and Ashton Davis both won with regular decisions for the Blue Raiders.
Austin McClure had Bradley’s other pin at 285 while Ethan Wilson and Gaven Hughes both won with decisions and Seth Gregory with a forfeit at 138.
Bradley returns to action on Friday with dual meets against Science Hill and Christian Brothers before taking part in the Fandetti-Richardson Brawl at Science Hill on Saturday.
Cleveland returns to action next Thursday when they host Soddy Daisy.
Bradley will host the Region 3-AAA Duals on Jan. 30 with Bradley battling Soddy Daisy and Cleveland challenging Walker Valley.
SODDY DAISY avoided meeting Cleveland in the semifinal after posting a 49-24 victory at Walker Valley on Thursday. The Trojans are now 8-5 following that latest win.
CLEVELAND 42, BRADLEY 27
(Match Began At 152 Pounds)
106 – Ethan Wilson (Brad) dec. Bentley Ellison, 4-3;
113 – Arlo Laxton (Clev) dec. Easton Lipsey, 6-0;
120 – Luke Belcher (Brad) pinned Jax Godfrey, 3:47;
126 – Trae McDaniel (Clev) pinned Taron Patterson, 2:30;
132 – Gaven Hughes (Brad) dec. Blake Randall, 5-2;
138 – Seth Gregory (Brad) won by forfeit;
145 – Garrett Stevenson (Clev) pinned Chase Stansberry, 5:08;
152 – Cael Laxton (Clev) pinned Austin Lynn, 3:04;
160 – Nate Schilling (Clev) pinned Knox Watson, :32;
170 – Zach Brezna (Clev) pinned Landon Price, 3:56;
182 – Te’toe Boyd (Clev) pinned Cody McDaniel, 5:03;
195 – Tyrone McDonald (Brad) dec. Riley Harris, 7-2;
220 – Ashton Davis (Clev) dec. Gavin Sewell, 6-2;
285 – Austin McClure (Brad) pinned Growin Wilson, 2:29.
SODDY DAISY 49, WALKER VALLEY 24
106 – Lincoln Harvey (SD) pinned Brett Harris, :21;
113 – Hunter Bankes (SD) major dec. Joshua Bramlett, 16-5;
120 – Tristan Hight (SD) pinned Alex McCord, 3:31;
126 – Samuel Grier (SD) dec. Fisher Heil, 10-4;
132 – Garrison McCann (WV) pinned William Whalen, 5:40;
138 – Jacob Allen (SD) pinned Andrew Miles, :37;
145 – Cole Prestwood (SD) pinned Jackson Davis, :51;
152 – Michael Teasley (WV) pinned Gavin Hamrick, 3:00;
160 – Landon Lewis (SD) pinned Joshua Van Wyk, 1:01;
170 – Noah Addison (SD) pinned Caden Decker, 1:28;
182 – Double forfeit;
195 – Hayden Maynor (SD) pinned Kallum Lowe, 1:43;
220 – Jacob Anderson (WV) won by forfeit;
285 – Jadon Langford (WV) won by forfeit.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)