Of all the sports that have been adversely affected by Covid 19, probably none have been hit any harder than prep wrestling.
A lot of dual meets and all tournaments have been trashed and there have been times when teams went weeks without even practicing.
Such has been the case with Baylor and McCallie.
They had their usual dual meet at Baylor Friday evening and it was more different than any in recent memory.
No cheerleaders, very limited fans that included immediately family only and a couple of teams that between them had wrestled three matches before Friday’s gathering.
Baylor improved to 2-0 with the 51-14 victory while McCallie now 0-3. It was the last dual meet for both teams as they both prepare for post-season competition. Baylor is gunning for its fourth straight state duals title in two weeks while McCallie is pointing toward the traditional state tournament that will be in Chattanooga in mid-February.
Baylor was aided by three McCallie forfeits, caused in general by the combination of injuries and Covid concerns. So as you may have already gathered, it wasn’t your typical Baylor-McCallie match where the gym was packed an hour before the first match and the noise level at a deafening pitch.
“I thought we left a lot out there are we aren’t firing on all cylinders,” said Baylor’s first-year head coach Rex Kendle after a post-match meeting with his team.
“We all looked rusty because nobody’s had any matches. I thought we showed some heart in places. We’ve had a good week of practice, but that doesn’t always translate to looking good in a match. We have some high expectations here and we definitely aren’t wrestling up to our potential yet.”
Two of Baylor’s wins came from Heath Snodgrass at 220 and Garrison Dendy at 152. Both earned special praise from Kendle.
“Heath has done everything right. He was a starter for us as a sophomore, but was a JV guy last year. He never backed away from the hard work and is being paid for it now. Garrison bumped up and wrestled Emory Taylor, who is a three-time state champ. That was a good win for him as well,” the coach added.
McCallie coach Jake Yost knows that these dual meets don’t count for much in the long run as the traditional state and national tournaments are where the Blue Tornado will shine.
“We just got back in the practice room last week, but we’re just trying to get ready for post-season tournaments,” Yost expressed shortly after the final match had ended.
“We can’t afford to get anyone hurt, but I’m hoping we can fill those holes before the season ends. I thought we fought hard, but it was the first match of the season for a lot of these guys. We had a freshman Carson Gentle at 220 who did a great job. He lost a tough decision, but he can learn from a match like that.
“Baylor definitely has another good team, but we can still clean up a lot of the mistakes we made today,” Yost added.
The match began at 132 pounds where McCallie’s Nicholas Ridings gave his team an early lead with a 4-0 decision.
Micah Tisdale had a pin, Porter Kaufman received a forfeit and Dendy posted a tough 4-3 decision over Taylor to give Baylor a 15-3 lead after four matches.
Gavin Cagle and Alex Whitworth both scored four team points with major decisions at 160 and 170 before the Red Raiders reeled off seven straight wins, including pins from David Harper at 195, Matthew Smith at 285 and Kade Hartline at 106.
Perhaps the best match of the day was at 126 pounds where McCallie’s defending state champ Jack Braman posted a 7-5 overtime decision over Jackson Bond, a two-time state winner.
A takedown some 21 seconds into the overtime period was the difference for Braman.
So the practice continues for both teams as the post-season approaches in a year like none other.
BAYLOR 51, McCALLIE 14
(Match began at 132 pounds)
106 – Kade Hartline (Bay) pinned Carson Haney, 1:44;
113 – Nick Cordey (Bay) won by forfeit;
120 – Judson Jarrett (Bay) won by forfeit;
126 – Jack Braman (McC) dec. Jackson Bond, 7-5 in overtime;
132 – Nicholas Ridings (McC) dec. Grady Joyner, 4-0;
138 – Micah Tisdale (Bay) pinned James Cross, :42;
145 – Porter Kaufman (Bay) won by forfeit;
152 – Garrison Dendy (Bay) dec. Emory Taylor, 4-3;
160 – Gavin Cagle (McC) major dec. Anthony Mannella, 20-8;
170 – Alex Whitworth (McC) major dec. Omaury Alvarez, 13-3;
182 – Ronald Garriques (Bay) dec. Frankie Zahrobsky, 6-0;
195 – David Harper (Bay) pinned Harrison Millirons, 3:00;
220 – Heath Snodgrass (Bay) dec. Carson Gentle, 8-6;
285 – Matthew Smith (Bay) pinned Wylie McDonald, 5:04.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)