WOODSTOCK, Ga. — With 13 of 14 wrestlers placing, including a half dozen advancing to championship finals, Bradley Central pinned the competition at the Wolverine Classic over the weekend.
Headlined by a trio of title winners — Ryan McElhaney (106), Toribio Navarro (113) and Knox Fuller (120) — the Bears posted a winning total of 225 team points, leaving second place Etowah (Ga.) in the dust with just 180.
"It feels good to come back down to Georgia this weekend and walk away with three individual champions and an overall team championship. Gold looks a little better in our room than silver, bronze, or nothing at all,” declared Bear head coach Ben Smith.
“I'm proud of my guys for sticking with it this week. We've had an emotional week, with four tough matches following a bad loss last weekend and four weigh-in's in five days,” he added. “I told them this would be a ‘grind’ week and our toughness would be tested in all areas — physical, mental, emotional.
“I'm proud of the way they've responded this week and looking forward to getting some practice time in later this week to fix some of the technical and mental breakdowns we've had over this long week,” Smith praised. “Overall, they responded as Bradley wrestlers should, they got tough and pulled through. I'm proud of our Bears.
Along with McElhaney, Navarro and Fuller sweeping the three lower weights, Taylor Kazy (132), Brett Brown (182) and Zach McFarland (195) advance to their respective title match and brought home runner-up trophies.
Other place winners included a fourth-place finish by Chris Price (145), fifths from Stephen Scott (138), Caleb Adkins (152) and Nathan Adams (170), plus sixth-place awards for Hunter Parker (126), Spencer Dailey (160) and heavyweight Jerry “JJ” Johnson.
“We opened up really well and put nine in the semis, six of which reached the finals,” Coach Smith stated. “We placed 13, so the other seven nonfinalists had a rough consolation semis round with only one advancing to the 3/4 place match. That shows our competitive youth, inconsistency, and lack of toughness at times in spots. We've got to get tougher in tough situations and in winnable, big-match situations.”
Boasting a 7-1 dual meet record after a victory over McCallie, listed last week, the seventh-ranked Bears will travel to Hixson Tuesday evening, before going to East Hamilton for a tri-match that will include Dalton, Ga., on Friday. Bradley will participate in the Tullahoma Duals on Saturday.