After two days of hand-to-hand combat, the Bradley Central Bears landed three wrestlers in the finals of the Bradley Invitational which wrapped up Saturday at Jim Smiddy Arena. They did not land where head coach Ben Smith hoped they would finishing fourth out of the 28-team field.
"We've had better weekends. We looked good in some spots, we had two champs and a finalist. We also had two guys battle back, but to win tournaments, we have to battle back in the consolations. We battled back some in spots, but in other spots we didn't," a tired Smith said as the tournament wound to a close.
"We had a great second round and a decent quarterfinals then the quality of the tournament caught up with us. We knew we were not favored in some matches and at that point you have to win a match to come back and place and in a couple of spots I thought we would, we didn't.”
The Bears ended the two-day battle with 166.5 points, 2.5 behind third place Walker Valley with 168. Soddy-Daisy earned the championship with 193 points and Scottsboro, Ala., took second with 184.
Heritage, Whitewater, Maryville, Hoover, East Ridge and Gordon Lee rounded out the Top 10.
"We came here to win this tournament. We've got some guys out of our lineup. I don't like to say that too much because everyone is saying that," said Walker Valley Mustangs coach Al Morris. "We had guys come here that came up short in my expectations and that is disappointing. We had some that met their expectations or even exceeded them. Overall, it was a positive step toward where we are wanting to be in February."
Bradley's Toribio Navarro battled Jake McClure from Soddy-Daisy in the 106-pound championship and Dakota Bromley went against Eagleville's Casey Dodson at 120. At 126 pounds, Dakota Ream stepped inside the circle against Tucker Russo, also from Soddy-Daisy.
Walker Valley had two wrestlers in the championships. The Mustangs' Caleb Langford squared off against Chattanooga Central's Joe Stegal at 138 pounds, while unbeaten Billy Raulston grappled for the 195-pound crown.
At 132, the Mustangs' Tyrus Hamrick finished third with a 6-4 win after an overtime battle with Jose Hendernandez, of Heritage.
At 152, Walker Valley's Ryan Hager finished fourth and Kendal Small, of East Ridge, took third with a 5-3 decision.
Navarro wasted little time punching his ticket to the top of the podium. Navarro started with a takedown and led 4-1 before winning the championship with a first-period pin.
In the 120-pound final Bromley earned a takedown and a 2-0 lead after the first period. Dodson countered with a near fall early in the second to go up 3-2. But, a reversal by Bromley midway through the second gave the Bears' 120-pounder a 4-3 advantage at the end of the period.
Bromley wrestled Dosdon for control throughout the better part of the third and earned two points for a takedown late. Dodson picked up two points with a reversal, but could not score again falling to Bromley, 6-5.
At 126, Bradley Central's Ream, after scoring the first points on a takedown, gave up a reversal to Russo before taking a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period with an escape. Russo came back early in the second with a reversal to go up 4-3. Ream tied the match at 4-4, but a takedown with less than a minute left in the second gave Russo a 6-4 advantage.
Ream made it 6-5 with an early escape in the final period. With 1:10 left in the match, Russo earned a takedown and held off Ream to win the championship, 8-5.
"We lost a close one in the quarters with Robbie Clark (160) and that was big for the total team score. About half the guys responded very well. The other half, we are green and we still have to learn to fight through a big tournament like this. When you have an undefeated kid wrestling for fifth or sixth and he is wrestling a three-time state champ in the semis that tells you the quality of the tournament," said Smith.
At 138, Walker Valley's Langford jumped to a 2-0 lead over Stegal with a takedown with 57 seconds left in the first period. Langford gave up a point to Stegal with just over a minute left in the second on a penalty point called on a hard slam to the mat. Seconds later, Langford earned the top spot on the podium with a pin with 18 seconds left in the period.
"Caleb Langford, he just dominated. It was total domination against a very good kid, a top athlete. Everything he gave Caleb had an answer for. I expect that from Caleb and he delivered," Morris said of his 138-pound Mustang.
In the 195-pound championship, Walker Valley's Raulston finished out the local championship bracket against Gordon Lee's Corey Jewel.
Jewel took a 2-0 first-period lead early before Raulston earned a point with a late escape. Raulston tied the match at 2-2 with his second escape to open the second period. With 42 seconds left in the period, Raulston took his first lead with a takedown of Jewel and led 4-2 headed into the third.
Raulston stayed in control for the first minute of the final period but could not increase his lead over Jewel. After a stalemate with 24 seconds left in the match, Raulston continued his domination of Jewel to win the championship.
"I didn't know what to think. He was up against a very big, lanky athlete. His coach told me he had pinned 18 straight in the first period and I was hoping if we could get through the first period we could wear him down. But Billy kept fighting. He's not fancy, he's not flashy, he just finds a way to win. That was a very good win for him," Morris said of his big 220 pounder.
"Sometimes I get a little concerned he may be a little over confident, but as long as he keeps it in perspective he will be all right."
Smith said the tournament held some bright spots for the Bears, but added there is a lot to improve on and plenty of time to get problems corrected.
"I'd be lying if I said I was pleased but I saw some bright spots. everything I saw that was wrong we can fix. We were good to above average, but we are still not where we need to be right now, but it's good it's December and not February," said the Bears' coach.
The Best Match Award went to Max Sultan and Jackson Hall who wrestled in the championship 132-pound match. Turbo Smith of Soddy-Daisy was named Outstanding Wrestler and Gage Richmond earned Most Pins Award with five.
106 — Toribio Navarro (Bradley) pinned Jake McClure (Soddy-Daisy), 1:40; 113 — Devan Cyree (Tullahoma) win by injury default over Jonathan Ragsdale (Gordon Lee); 120 — Dakota Bromley (Bradley Central) dec. Casey Dodson (Eagleville), 6-5; 126 — Tucker Russo (Soddy-Daisy) dec. Dakota Ream (Bradley Central), 8-5; 132 — Max Sultan (Whitewater) dec. Jackson Hall (Hoover), 6-5 138 — Caleb Langford (Walker Valley) pinned Joe Stegal (Chattanooga Central), 3:42; 145 — Austin Penland Whitewater) major dec. Brett Clark (Scottsboro), 13-3; 152 — Turbo Smith (Soddy-Daisy) dec. Chase McClure (Scottsboro), 9-5; 160 — Tyler Sells (Blackman) dec. Larry Dickerson Jr. 6-5 OT; 170 — Chad Solomon (Maryville) dec. Blake Solomon (Eagleville) 5-3 OT; 182 — Syeney Wheeler (Dalton) win be default over Schuler Larue (Heritage); 195 — Billy Raulston (Walker Valley) dec. Corey Jewel (Gordon Lee), 4-2; 220 — T.J. Satterfield (William Blount) major dec. Matt Franko, 14-5; 285 — George Harris (Whitewater) pinned Joey Evans (Heeritage), 4:36.
106 — Tanner Justice (Halls) pinned Arick Shankles, Scottsboro, 2:42; 113 — Nick Crawford (Heritage) technical fall Titus Worthen (Scottsboro), 4:02; 120 — Brandon Whitley (East ridge) pinned Blake Clayton (Gordon Lee), 1:39; 126 — Payton Garrlington (Hoover) dec. Dylan Carlile, dalton, 3-1; 132 Tyrus Hamrick (Walker Valley) dec. Jose Hernandez, (Heritage), 6-4 OT; 138 — Austin Williamson (Soddy-Daisy) pinned Caven Rogers (Bradley Central). 1:58; 145 — Gage Richmond (Soddy-Daisy) major dec. Skylor Boring (Heritage), 15-4; 152 — Kendal Small (East Ridge) dec. Ryan Hager (Walker Valley), 5-3; 160 ‚ Brandon Womach (Scottsboro) pinned Aaron Alemany (Hixson), 0:59; 170 — Garrett Alexander (Soddy-Daisy) dec. Conor Rohrbaugh (Halls), 6-1; 182 — Jevon Brown (Blackman) dec. Harrison Hall (Signal Mountain), 5-3; 195 ‚ Brandon Cantrell (East Ridge) pinned Clay Strawn (Maryville), 1:56; 220 — Jeb Davis (Heritage) dec. Zach Miller (Walker Valley), 10-3; 285 — Robert Wright (Maryville) pinned Austin Wells (Blackman), 4:58.