QUOTEWe’ll still have to wrestle our best, but I feel like we’re physically
and mentally prepared. We have some pretty big goals we’re working
toward, so tomorrow will be a big …
FRANKLIN — The Cleveland Blue Raiders didn’t have a perfect first day at the TSSAA Traditional State Wrestling Tournament, but they came pretty close.
The first day of action for AAA teams is in the book at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Park in Franklin and the defending state champs are ahead with 92.5 points.
Archrival and next-door neighbor Bradley Central is currently second with 75.5 points while Science Hill is third with 64. Wilson Central and Blackman are fourth and fifth with totals of 61.5 and 50.5, respectively.
Cleveland got off to a roaring start by winning 13 of its first 14 matches in the opening round, including 11 by pin. The second round was almost as impressive as 10 of those 13 advanced to Friday’s championship quarterfinals and all four of those who lost are still alive in the consolation rounds.
Bradley’s Bears also had an outstanding first day to claim the runner-up spot after two championship rounds and two rounds of consolations.
The Bears won 10 of 14 matches in the first round while six of those 10 advanced to the championship quarters, which was held this morning. Five Bears are still alive in the consolation rounds as well.
“There’s still a whole lot of wrestling to do, but we did alright today,” said Cleveland coach Joey Knox while he was headed back to the hotel following Friday’s action.
“We’ll still have to wrestle our best, but I feel like we’re physically and mentally prepared. We have some pretty big goals we’re working toward, so tomorrow (Friday) will be a big day. I was hoping we’d have 100 points at this point, but I’m satisfied with what we have.
“We still have lots of opportunity to score points, but we’ll have some tough matches on Friday. We just hope to keep up the good work and to stay focused on the next match. It’s a long way from over,” Knox added.
Baylor is the only team to beat Cleveland and that came in the finals of the Cleveland Duals in early December by a single point. Nobody else has come remotely close to challenging the Blue Raiders. Bradley finished second to Cleveland at the state duals two weeks ago, but the final score was 56-9.
Bradley coach Ben Smith has been in this business a long time. He knew long before the day began that the battle was going to be for second place. Despite that, he was still more than pleased with how his team performed.
“It was about what we expected. We don’t have any real guarantees like in the past, but we have a bunch of kids who are capable of claiming a medal this weekend,” Smith began.
“I knew we’d have some tough second-round matches and we did. There were a couple of spots where we hoped to win and didn’t, but there were no major upsets either way. We still have six in the quarters and all have pretty good draws.
“I’m about 80 percent pleased with what we did today as there were no negative surprises and no positive ones either. Right now, we’re fighting for second place as Cleveland is that good,” Smith nodded.
While Cleveland and Bradley are sitting pretty at the top of the list, Walker Valley is 19th with 30 points. East Hamilton scored 22.5 points and is currently 30th while Ooltewah is 33rd after scoring 20.5 points. Soddy Daisy and Rhea County are 38th and 39th with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Cleveland’s double winners included Trae McDaniel at 106, Jackson Bradford at 113, Logan Whiteside at 132, Cael Laxton at 138, Grant Lundy at 145, Austin Sweeney at 152 and Zach Brezna at 160.
Isaiah Perez (195), Wilson Benefield (220) and Titus Swafford (285) were also double winners.
Garrett Stevenson (126) lost in the first round, but bounced back to win two consolation matches while Burns Meagher (120), Ashton Davis (170) and Dylan Jones (182) all bounced back after second-round losses to stay alive in the consolations.
Bradley’s six in the quarterfinals include Ethan Wilson at 106, Wesley DeVaney at 120, Daniel Mroz at 126, Treyy Johnson at 170, Tyrone McDonald at 182 and D.J. Gibson at 195.
Bears still alive in the wrestle backs include Glen O’Daniel at 113, Gavin Hughes at 132, Sebastian Hernandez at 138, Parker Falls at 145 and Seth Gerena at 152.
Walker Valley took seven wrestlers to Franklin and each won at least one match.
Four Mustangs are still alive in the event with Region 4 heavyweight champion Jadon Langford pinned Dalton Mitchell of Sevier County in 1:16 before taking a 12-8 decision over Ryan Smith of Summit to advance to today's quarterfinals. The sophomore Stallion is the lone WV matman still in the winners bracket action.
Walker Valley still had three — Joey Vecchione (152), Ethan West (145) and Kallum Lowe (195) — wrestlers still alive in the the consolation brackets this morning.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE