After a first half of the wrestling season battling injury and illness, the Mustangs enjoyed a big dose of healing medicine by hoisting the championship trophy at the Vandergriff Duals at Hixson High School, Friday after defeating Gordon Lee, 46-24.
The moment was made sweeter for the Mustangs (16-2) with the knowledge their first tournament win of the season came at the hands of the defending Georgia Class A state duals wrestling champions.
"This ended the first half of our season on a great note, beating the defending state champions out of Georgia in the finals," said a tired but pleased coach Al Morris. "Our effort was great considering the fact we are like a lot of teams, we're banged up and not feeling good. We are proud of these guys. The coaching staff is proud of this team because they sucked it up and found a way to get the job done."
Walker Valley earned its spot in the championship match by defeating Clarksville, 41-27, Signal Mountain, 61-12 and Stone Memorial 63-18.
Gordon Lee reached the championship with wins over East Hamilton, Eagleville, Hixson and Alcoa.
The host Hixson Wildcats defeated Clarksville 37-29 for third place.
The Gordon Lee Trojans (24-3) started the championship final with a forfeit at 138 pounds. Lawrence Cotton, who pinned his opponent in five seconds in the semifinal match, gave the Mustangs a 12-0 lead with another pin at 145 pounds.
Qy'Re Brown won a decision at 160 and Chase Gregory earned a major decision at 170 to put the Mustangs out front 19-3 after a loss at 152.
A decision and pin by the Trojans cut the Walker Valley lead to 19-12. At 220, Zach Miller walked off with six points for the Mustangs after a Gordon Lee injury default. Sam Dworak followed with a 44-second pin at 285 and Drake Haney won by forfeit at 106 to put Walker Valley up 37-12.
Braxton Brewer made up for a Gordon Lee pin with a decision at 120 pounds. Tyrus Hamrick and Caleb Langford picked up forfeits to make the final score 46-24.
"We are learning more about how to wrestle in a dual meet. We're not getting pinned, we are getting our bonus points. We've still got some things to work on," Morris said. "The good thing is we are going to rest up for a few days and get ready to come back to work after Christmas."
The No. 11-ranked Mustangs will rest up and heal up over the Christmas break and begin the second half of the season Jan. 3 against the No. 10 Bradley Central Bears
"That's the important half," Morris said about the upcoming Run for the Roses. "What I told the guys is we wrestled the first half of the season and finished on a winning note. That is what we want to do in the second half. If they start believing in themselves like the coaches believe in them, we are going to be all right."
WALKER VALLEY 46,
GORDON LEE 24
(Match started at 138 Pounds)
106 — Drake Haney (WV) win by forfeit; 113 — Logan Smith (WV) pinned Stihl Lance, 4:26; 120 — Braxton Brewer (WV) dec. Blake Clayton, 8-4; 126 — Mika Clark (GL) pinned Arrie Bramlett, 1:30; 132 — Tyrus Hamrick (WV) win by forfeit; 138 — Caleb Langford (WV) win by forfeit; 145 — Lawrence Cotton (WV) pinned Alex Spires, 2:12; 152 — William Jacks (GL) dec. Ryan Hager, 7-6; 160 — Qy'Re Brown (WV) dec. Jonathan Bettis, 10-7; 170 — Chase Gregory (WV) major dec. Clayton Reeves, 11-2; 182 — Michael Farmer (GL) dec. Chazz Fulford, 6-4 OT; 195 — Corey Jewell (GL) pinned Billy Raulston, 5:33; 220 — Zack Miller (WV) win by injury default over Dallas Alder; 285 — Samuel Dworak (WV) pinned Jarod Streetman, 0:44.