He was thrilled with the results after watching his squad manhandle 13th-ranked Hixson 47-18 Tuesday evening at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“We didn’t have a good tournament. We didn’t have a good practice Monday, but the guys came out and fought hard tonight,” declared coach Smith. “Hixson is a good program that is very well coached, so I’m pleased with our overall effort against a strong opponent.”
The victory improves Bradley’s dual meet record to 9-1 on the season as it heads into the holiday break. The Bears won’t return to the mat until Jan. 3 when county rival Walker Valley, which is currently ranked ninth in the Tennessee Wrestling Federation poll, comes to Smiddy Arena for a big showdown. The two teams battled in the championship of the Tullahoma Duals 11 days ago, with the Bears claiming the title by a two-point margin.
Both Hixson and Bradley came into Tuesday’s dual meet with three wrestlers ranked by the TWF, but a pair of unranked Bears — Robbie Clark and Taylor Kazy — pulled off upsets and Bradley’s third-ranked Dyer Rose pinned No. 5 Austin Payne in the only match between two ranked wrestlers.
“(Robbie) Clark and (Taylor) Kazy had big wins over not only state-ranked guys, but over guys who finished higher than them in the (Bradley Invitational) tournament,” praised coach Smith. “That was not only huge for us as a team, but for them as individuals as well.”
With Tuesday’s meet starting at the 145-pound class, Hixson got on the scoreboard first with a 3-1 decision, but Bradley answered immediately with Jacob Staton posting a 13-1 major decision in the 152-pound match.
Clark then gave the hosts three more points with a pair of third-period escapes and a takedown to pull out a 6-4 decision over fifth-ranked 160-pounder Aaron Alemany.
Eric Goins added three more Bradley team points with an 11-7 decision at 170, but Hixson got right back in the match with a pin at 182 and then retook the lead with a 7-3 decision at 195.
Zach McFarland took back the momentum for the Bears with the night’s quickest pin at 220, when he only needed 43 seconds to put his opponent’s shoulders to the mat.
Heavyweight Jerry “JJ” Johnson followed with a 3:25 pin to put what turned out to be the meet-winning points on the board, giving Bradley a double-digit lead it wouldn’t surrender.
Second-ranked sophomore Toribio Navarro remained unbeaten on the season when he continued the slap of the mat 110 seconds into his 106-pound match. Rose capped the run of four straight pins when he put Payne’s shoulders on the pad at the 3:31 mark of the 112-pound match.
Dakota Bromley, who like Navarro won Bradley Invitational titles Saturday, helped out the hometown cause with a 12-2 major decision at 120, before “Double D” teammate Dakota Ream, the fourth-ranked 126-pounder in the state, needed just 66 seconds to get the referee to slap.
Kazy closed out a string of seven straight Bear victories with an exciting one-point decision over No. 6 Isaiah Hawthorne in the 132-pound battle. After trailing 2-1 at the first break and 4-3 going into the final two minutes, Kazy earned an escape and a takedown and then held off a late move by Hawthorne for a 6-5 victory that brought the 500-plus crowd to its feet.
“The guys showed a lot of character in coming back from the disappointing weekend performance,” commented coach Smith. “They really showed me something by the way they came out tonight.”
BEARS 47, WILDCATS 18
(Match started at 145 pounds)
106 — Toribio Navarro (BC) pinned Conner Zeigler, 1:50; 113 — Dyer Rose (BC) pinned Austin Payne, 3:13; 120 — Dakota Bromley (BC) major dec. Grayson Lane, 12-2; 126 — Dakota Ream (BC) pinned Steven Sklaventitis, 1:06; 132 — Taylor Kazy (BC) dec. Isaiah Hawthorne, 6-5; 138 — Landon Goforth (H) pinned Caven Rogers, 5:02; 145 — Ameer Jiibrin (H) dec. Stephen Scott, 3-1; 152 — Jacob Staton (BC) major dec. Nick Peck, 13-1; 160 — Robbie Clark (BC) dec. Aaron Alemany, 6-4; 170 — Eric Goins (BC) dec. Tarik Twitty 11-7; 182 — Chris Nicholson (H) pinned Corey Bandy, :58; 195 — McKenzie Martin (H) dec. Alex Forgey 7-3; 220 — Zach McFarland (BC) pinned Anthony Kring, :43; 285 — Jerry Johnson (BC) pinned Mitchell Bird, 3:25.