CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The casual observer will probably look at this story, see where Cleveland beat arch-rival Bradley by a 50-18 final in a wrestling match and think that it was one-sided and not worth watching.
Granted, it was somewhat one-sided as the top-ranked and unbeaten Blue Raiders won 10 of the 14 matches and had bonus points in eight of them. Cleveland also prevailed in the two matches that were overtime.
But for a spirited gathering at Bradley’s Jim Smiddy Arena, it was another classic battle between two teams who have dominated Division I wrestling in Tennessee for a long, long time.
“That was a pretty good showing,” said Cleveland coach Joey Knox after his team won its 15th straight dual meet without a defeat.
“We gave up three more points than I thought we would, but our season is not over. We’ve got to keep working.
“There were a lot of close matches and I felt like we should have won at 170. But I’m never pleased as we need to win all 14 weight classes. We’re getting ready to make another run, but our studs did their job tonight,” Knox added.
Bradley coach Ben Smith, who has experienced more than his share of Cleveland-Bradley matches, felt like his team had a shot at winning half of the 14 matches with hopes of getting a few bonus points. He was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t turn out like he had planned.
“That was a fun match in a great environment. There’s nothing else like it around here,” Smith said with a serious tone.
“I really felt like we had a shot to win seven matches and we just won four. And Cleveland got bonus points in eight of the 10 matches they won. I still feel like we can beat them, but we just didn’t show it tonight.
“We put ourselves in a bad situation several times, but nobody laid down. Cleveland has the hot hand right now, but we still feel like we can compete with them. We just have to get over the hump.
“Personally I’m embarrassed at the final score as that shows I need to do a better job. I don’t have the answer right now, but I can promise you that we’ll lick our wounds tonight and get back to work soon. But there were five or six matches tonight that we could have won and didn’t. But Cleveland won the close ones and they got most of the bonus points, so hats off to them for doing a great job,” Smith added.
Bentley Ellison got the Blue Raiders off and running with an 11-2 major decision in the first match at 120 pounds. Logan Fowler followed with a first-minute pin before Arlo Laxton won by injury default at 132 as Cleveland had a 16-0 lead at that point.
Ethan Lipsey got Bradley’s first points with an 8-3 decision at 138, but by the time Knox Watson pulled out a somewhat controversial 4-3 win at 170, Cleveland’s lead was 29-6 and the match all but over with.
Jake Fox and Bryson Terrell added pins for the Bears later to make the final score a bit more respectable, but there was never a doubt that the winners dominated from the opening whistle and they appear ready to challenge for two more state titles.
The Blue Raiders have won both the state duals and traditional tournaments for the last four years.
While Fowler had the quickest pin for Cleveland in just 54 seconds, teammates Hagen Cooper, Tetoe Boyd, Ashton Davis and Chase Walker also had pins for the Blue Raiders.
Cy Fowler and Jared Conales also had overtime decisions for Cleveland at 152 and 220, respectively.
Bradley will head to Nashville this weekend for the G.P. West Invitational at Brentwood High School where they will get a close look at Wilson Central in preparation for the season-ending tournaments. Right now, the Wildcats are ranked in the top five as well as Bradley and Cleveland.
Cleveland returns to action next Thursday when they host Walker Valley.
CLEVELAND 50, BRADLEY 18
(Match began at 120 pounds)
106 – Chase Walker (Clev) pinned Miguel Rincon-Salinas, 1:23;
113 – Bryson Terrell (Brad) pinned Hudson Sims, 5:55;
120 – Bentley Ellison (Clev) major dec. Wyatt James, 11-2;
126 – Logan Fowler (Clev) pinned Kyle Hogg, :54;
132 – Arlo Laxton (Clev) won by injury default over Easton Lipsey;
138 – Ethan Lipsey (Brad) dec. Blake Randall, 8-3;
145 – Hagen Cooper (Clev) pinned Gunner Taylor, 1:11;
152 – Cy Fowler (Clev) dec. Carson Parker, 2-0 in overtime;
160 – Lucas Szymborski (Clev) major dec. Wade Brooks, 13-4;
170 – Knox Watson (Brad) dec. Jax Ernest, 4-3;
182 – Jake Fox (Brad) pinned Dave Giraldo, 4:18;
195 – Tetoe Boyd (Clev) pinned Hayden West, 3:10;
220 – Jared Canales (Clev) dec. Jaylen Thomas, 3-2 in overtime;
285 – Ashton Davis (Clev) pinned Austin McClure, 1:54.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)