The Walker Valley wrestling Mustangs battled their way through a pool of eight other teams and came out on the other side as champions of the second annual Walker Valley Duals wrestling tournament after a 44-19 win over Knoxville Halls.
The Mustangs reached the championship finals with victories over Bearden (52-19), Notre Dame (57-18) and Maryville (51-9).
Tullahoma took third place defeating Maryville 40-38.
"We fought hard today and wrestled well in spots. We've got plenty of areas that need improvement," said Mustangs assistant coach Adam Rains. "Overall it was a good day because everybody on our team got better and they worked hard."
Austin Gregory and Joseph Munoz opened up for the Mustangs with major decisions at 126 and 132 pounds.
Tyrus Hamrick kept Walker Valley on top with a decision at 145, but it was Ryan Hager who fought the bout of the match at 152.
Hager found himself behind 6-4 after the first period and 7-6 after the second. Hager tied it up in the third with two takedowns and an escape. Then only seconds into overtime, Hager broke the 9-9 deadlock with a takedown of Colton McMahan to win the match and put the Mustangs out front 14-6.
"Ryan Hager grew up a little bit today and that was awesome. He dug himself a hole early, had a small injury and then gave up a couple of takedowns. But he battled back and that's what we've been preaching the whole year and that's how you are supposed to respond."
Lawrence Cotton followed Hager with a pin at 160.
Billy Raulston picked up a decision at 182 and after a forfeit by Halls at 195, Xzavier Beckingham locked up the win with a pin at 220. Zach Miller added some icing with a pin at 285 to make it 41-10. Drake Haney put the Mustangs out front 44-10 with a decision at 106.
The Red Devils got wins in the final two matches of the night to make the final score 44-19.
"There were some good teams here. We wrestled some teams that will be competing for the small school state championship. And we had some other teams that were pretty tough in the large school division. I feel like it was good competition and we needed it," said Rains.
The Walker Valley assistant coach said the purpose of the duals tournament is to help wrestlers improve and peak at the season ending state tournaments.
"Basically we are all just trying to improve and peak right there at the end. We contacted other teams last year and told them we are trying to get another dual tournament, a tough dual tournament in January to help everybody peak at the right time in February," he said. "That's what everybody is working for right now. The tournament is just teams that want to work together and get better."
MUSTANGS 44, RED DEVILS 19
(Match started at 126)
106 — Drake Haney (WV) dec. Tanner Justice (H), 12-8; 113 — Zane Smith (H) pinned Evan Huling (WV), 3:34; 120 — Calvin Giles (H) dec. Logan Smith (WV), 11-4; 126 — Austin Gregory (WV) major dec. Eric Brady (H), 132 — Joseph Munoz (WV) major dec. Trey Lepper (H); 138 — Joe Fox (H) pinned Michel Gregory (WV), 1:40; 145 — Tyrus Hamrick (WV) dec. Andrew Kitts (H), 6-4; 152 — Ryan Hager (WV) dec. Colton McMahan (H), 11-9 OT; 160 — Lawrence Cotton (WV) pinned Chivcus Robinson (H), 2:18; 170 — Tyler Kalish (H) major dec. Matt Pankey (WV), 14-1; 182 — Billy Raulston (WV) dec. Brandon Williams (H), 11-4; 195 — Ric Kennett (WV) win by forfeit; 220 — Xzavier Beckingham (WV pinned Tanner Huff (H), 4:28; 285 — Zach Miller (WV) pinned Jacobs Woods (H), 0:21.