The match may have lasted just a little more than an hour but for Bradley wrestling coach Ben Smith and the Bears, the 70-odd minutes seemed like an eternity as Cleveland got pin after pin in a 63-9 win over Bradley.
The No. 2-ranked Blue Raiders walked off the mat with nine pins — five in the first period — in a match many felt would be a lot closer even if the Raiders, who also won over the 10th-ranked Bears last season, were favored.
“Last year 51-11 was bad. This year 63-9. When you look at it on paper, we weren’t supposed to win. We weren’t supposed to do anything really, in this match. This is about what probably on paper should have happened,” said a disappointed Smith who has been on the winning end of lopsided scores more often than not. “My standards and my expectations for the team are to come in here and win. If we come in here and don’t win, to at least fight. At least put forth an effort. I got that out of about four or five guys. That’s what hurts me.”
On the other side of the mat, Cleveland coach Jake Yost said the Raiders came into the Dome with a mission to accomplish and did what they set out to do.
“I’m real pleased,” Yost said as the packed Raider Dome emptied. “We had a lot of fight. In the situations where the opportunities presented themselves, we took advantage of them. Where we had opportunities to get pins, we got them. I’m pleased.”
Haden Hamilton started the night at 132 pounds for Cleveland with the first pin for the Raiders. Ezra Taylor (138), Josh Hamilton (152), Aaron Lopez (160), Ethan West (182), Oleg Stukanov (195), Koran Kennedy (285), Chris DeBien (113) and Austin Stevison (120) all scored six-point victories for Cleveland.
The Bears’ Robbie Clark bumped up one weight class and scored the only win for Bradley with an 8-6 decision at 170. Toribio Navarro picked up the other points for Bradley with a forfeit by Cleveland at 106.
“I don’t feel like we are getting outcoached. I don’t feel like we are getting outtechniqued. It’s effort,” Smith said of the lack of the intensity he was looking for. “If our guys would put forth a maximum effort with the skill set they have, even when we are outgunned, we at least stay off our backs, we at least score, we at least have small victories within this match. I don’t feel like I’m walking away from here with many. They outfought us. They had a greater effort as a whole.
“I told my guys this match could be 74-0 or it could be 41-17, us. What dictates in the middle is our effort and our fight,” he added. “I also told them if it is 74-0 or 63-9 like it is right now, this match was won two and three years ago when their guys were being more active in the offseason and those guys were buying in and my guys were being spoiled. They were used to winning because we are Bradley. They (Cleveland) earned this victory years ago.
Yost said the win is simply another steppingstone toward Cleveland’s ultimate goal of raising another championship trophy.
“I would say that is a true statement,” he said when asked if the Cleveland effort was the best to date. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have things to take care of for February, but we are kind of getting our lineup solidified and all of our guys back healthy.”
“I’m hard on our guys so no matter what happens we are always looking at how we can get better and areas we can work in situations to improve.”
BLUE RAIDERS 63, BEARS 9
(Meet started at 132)
106 — Toribio Navarro (BC) win by forfeit; 113 — Chris DeBien (C) pinned Dyer Rose, 4:28; 120 — Austin Stevison (C) pinned Dakota Bromley, 2:49; 126 — Austin Oliver (C) dec. Dakota Ream, 5-2; 132 — Haden Hamilton (C) pinned Taylor Kazy, 1:40; 138 — Ezra Taylor (C) pinned Caven Rogers, 1:13; 145 — Joel Simpkins (C) dec. Colter McConell, 7-6; 152 — Josh Hamilton (C) pinned Jacob Staton, 1:08; 160 — Aaron Lopez (C) pinned James Goins, 2:49; 170 — Robbie Clark (BC) dec. Sean VonPotts, 8-6; 182 — Ethan West (C) pinned Nathan Adams, 1:40; 195 — Oleg Stukanov (C) pinned Alex Forgey, 1:02; 220 — John Gaither (C) dec. Zachary McFarland, 4-0; 285 — Koran Kennedy (C) pinned Jerry Johnson, 3:18.