He feels better after three of his upper five got pins in their first varsity matches to help lead the Bears to a 63-18 blowout of East Ridge in Thursday evening’s season opener at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“All of our guys, except one, from 170 and above are new to the varsity lineup, so we have been teaching them how to stay off their back and not give up points, but (Corey) Bandy, (Alex) Forgey and ‘JJ’ (Jerry Johnson) took it a step further and were able to stick their guys,” expressed coach Smith.
“Those guys really electrified the crowd, especially ‘JJ.’ He’s a great kid that everybody loves and exemplifies what Bradley wrestling is all about. He used to weigh 340 and has lost more than 60 pounds. For the last couple of years he was (state champion) Patrick Benson’s practice partner.”
“I expected this to be no more than a six- to 12-point win, but the team stepped up and gave the crowd (of between 800-900) something to cheer about,” the coach added. “This was a great atmosphere tonight, on the bench and in the stands.”
After getting the night’s lone forfeit in the opening weight class, Bradley got stunned a bit in the second match when team co-captain Dakota Bromley raced out to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period and was up 7-2 when Brandon Whitley suddenly turned him for a pin to even the match at 6-all.
“That was a tough match,” coach Smith remarked. “That was captain vs. captain. Give the East Ridge kid credit, he stayed after it and was able to turn it.”
The Bears responded with six straight wins from fourth-ranked Dakota Ream (126), Taylor Kazy (132), Caven Rogers (138), Colter McConnell (145), Jacob Staton (152) and Robbie Clark (160) to essentially put the match away. All were pins, except McConnell’s 13-7 decision victory.
Bandy (182), Forgey (195) and Johnson (285) added their “sticks” before Toribio Navarro, ranked second in the current Tennessee Wrestling Federation poll, finished off the night with a 90-second pin in the 106-pound match.
“Bandy weighed in at 162 but had to wrestle up at 182. He got down early, but then took the guy down and stuck him,” coach Smith related. “This was Forgey’s first match ever. He’s a senior we found in a conditioning class and asked him to come help us fill a spot.”
“We got pins from all of our ‘usual suspects’ (Navarro, Ream, Staton, Clark), plus tonight was a coming out party for our ‘32’ (Kazy), ‘38’ (Rogers) and ‘45’ (McConnell),” coach Smith commented. “Those guys had it kind of rough go last year, so opposing teams probably aren’t expecting much from them, but they made a statement tonight that they aren’t the same wrestlers they were last year.”
Bradley got nine of its 11 match victories by pin and will now head to the Ooltewah Invitational Saturday for a one-day traditional-style tournament. The Bears next dual meet will also be in Ooltewah Tuesday against the Owls.
BEARS 63, PIONEERS 18
Match started at 113
106 — Toribio Navarro (BC) pinned Robert Owens, 1:30; 113 — Dyer Rose (BC) won by forfeit; 120 — Brandon Whitley (ER) pinned Dakota Bromley, 3:06; 126 — Dakota Ream (BC) pinned Elpidio Samaycu, 1:20; 132 — Taylor Kazy (BC) pinned Spencer Griffy, 2:14; 138 — Caven Rogers (BC) pinned Justin Hitchcock, 1:16; 145 — Colter McConnell (BC) dec. Robert McAvoy, 13-7; 152 — Jacob Staton (BC) pinned Josh Kilgore, 2:28; 160 — Robbie Clark (BC) pinned Kendall Small 1:18; 170 — DeAngelo Johnson (ER) pinned Eric Goins, 3:14; 182 — Corey Bandy (BC) pinned Nakota Culver, 3:10; 195 — Alex Forgey (BC) pinned Quint Washington, 3:54; 220 — CJ Baker (ER) pinned Zach McFarland, 1:22; 285 — Jerry Johnson (BC) pinned Will Garner, 4:48.