The Irish held a 245-198 lead over the fifth-ranked Bears going into the finals and only needed to make an appearance to claim the championship of the two-day event.
The Irish finished with 279 points to the Bears’ 200.5.
"Initially, as a coach, you want to get frustrated when you don't win it," said Bears coach Ben Smith. "But when I step back and look at it, I felt like we got out fought in some spots. That's where I got disappointed. But when you really step back and look at it, as a coach I've got one state medalist, two state qualifiers in the lineup, and everybody else is either young or lack experience.
"It's hard to be picky. We are 16-1 with two tournament wins and two runner ups. Really, I can't be too picky. What we are trying to do now is develop consistency. We started slow, had great middle rounds, great quarter and great semis, then we caught the upper end of the competition that we are chasing."
Ranked 11th in the latest state poll, Walker Valley headed into the finals looking to move up one spot to third place after trailing Heritage by a half point, 122-121.5 after the semi-final round. The Mustangs ended the day with a fourth-place finish with 127.50 to the Mountaineers' 134.
Bradley Central ended the annual invitational with five second-place finishes. Ryan McElhaney (106), Toribio Navarro (113), Hunter Parker (126), Taylor Kazy (132) and Brett Brown (182) all won silver medals.
"I think we are on target for where we need to be come February. In the long run, we may be a little bit ahead of where I thought we would be right now. We are closing the gap and battling back. I see it beginning to turn back around in the right direction," said the Bears coach.
Father Ryan took championships in two head-to-head matches with the Bears (113 and 126) and also won first-place medals at 106, 120 and 145. The Irish won all five championship matches in which they appeared.
"I think we have fought through some of the worst things. Some of the changes we have made at Kids' Club, middle school and high school level are beginning to pay off. The hard work these guys are doing in the off season and in the morning with me and my coaches are beginning to pay off," said Smith. "We are still a couple of years away from where we want to be, but it feels good to almost have the momentum back."
Walker Valley's 285-pounder Zach Miller, who earlier pinned the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Tennessee to reach the finals, fell to the No. 1 ranked wrestler, Clarksville's Bruno Reagan, in the championship match.
Miller was the only Mustang at the championship level.
Bradley's Knox Fuller finished third at 120 pounds, and Nathan Adams took fourth at 170.
Walker Valley's Billy Raulston fought to a third-place finish at 182. Ryan Hager finished fourth at 152, and Ric Kennett took fourth place at 195.
"The problem in this tournament is we just didn't wrestle as well as I thought we were prior to this. It's a tough tournament. We've got to learn from it and use this experience down the road in the post season," Mustangs coach Al Morris said after the championship matches.
"We're all wrestling for February. That's what we tell our guys. There were some positive things here today, but there is still a lot of stuff we still need to work on like a lot of teams. We will go back, work on stuff and fix things that we need to. We'll get people healthy and get people in the right weight classes. But even if nothing changes, if everything stays as is, we are going to work hard and do our best to be ready in February."
106 — Dalton Flint (Commerce, Ga.) dec. Ryan McElhaney (Bradley), 7-4; 113 — Eli King (Father Ryan) dec. Toribio Navarro (Bradley), 4-3; 120 — Trey Chalifioux (Father Ryan) dec. Devan Cyree (Tullahoma), 4-3; 126 — Kirby Simpson (Father Ryan) major dec. Hunter Parker (Bradley), 10-0; 132 — Michael Deimer (Heritage) dec. Taylor Kazy (Bradley), 7-4; 138 — Michael Eckhart (Father Ryan) dec. Josh Feuerbacher (Blackman), 11-4; 145 — Marcello Morrice (Father Ryan) major dec. Noah Bankston (Notre Dame), 11-2; 152 — Tyler Garrison (Blackman) dec. Brett Clark (Scottsboro), 3-2; 160 — Brandon Womack (Scottsboro) pinned Trent Reddish (Commerce), 1:00; 170 — Bronson Reichsteiner (Etowah) dec. Deangelo Johnson (East Ridge), 7-4; 182 — Chad Solomon (Maryville) pinned Brett Brown (Bradley), 3:10; 195 — Schuyler LaRue (Heritage) dec. Clay Strawn (Maryville), 3-2 2OT; 220 — Peyton Demos (Huntsville) dec. Tristan Majors (Bearden) 4-2 OT; 285 — Bruno Reagan (Clarksville) pinned Zach Miller (Walker Valley), 1:33.
106 — Braxton Worthington (Mortimer Jordan) dec. Raymond Eason (Father Ryan), 7-4; 113 — Evan Huling (Halls) dec. Cleveland Cyree (Tullahoma), 1:40; 120 — Knox Fuller (Bradley) dec. Luke Mullin (Notre Dame), 5-2; 126 — Matthew Spradlin (Heritage) dec. Michael Brobeck (Blackman), 2-0; 132 — Jared Frazier (Father Ryan) pinned Spencer Griffin (East Ridge) 2:48; 138 — Cole Chancey (Commerce) dec. David Garabrandt (Bearden), 7-4; 145 — Joe Fox (Halls) dec. Matthew Sells (Blackman), 5-2; 152 — Ryan Simpson (Father Ryan) dec. Ryan Hager (Walker Valley), 10-3; 160 — Patrick Dooley (Franklin) pinned Nick Naughton (Father Ryan), 1:49; 170 — Greyson Cochran (Commerce) dec. Nathan Adams (Bradley), 2-0; 182 — Billy Raulston (Walker Valley) dec. Cody Skinner (Mortimer Jordan), 3-2; 195 — Kiel Russel (Clarksville) dec. Ric Kennett (Walker Valley), 5-3; 220 — Jed Davis (Heritage) dec. Matt Franco (Scottsboro), 6-3; 285 — C.J. Baker (East Ridge) dec. Sam Stephenson (Chatt. Central), 3-2.
Fifth Place Matches
106 — Tanner Justice (Halls) major dec. Adam Rogers (Tullahoma), 11-2; 113 — Jack Shrader (Franklin) dec. Josh Thomas (Etowah), 9-2; 120 — Zach Patterson (Bearden) tech. fall Ian McNitt (Hardin Valley, 4:50; 126 — Calvin Giles (Halls) dec. Isaac Yates (Hixson), 5-3; 132 — Grant Wallen (Seymour) dec. Gray Lane (Hixson), 3-1; 138 — Jovarrus Stegall (Hixson) dec. Stephen Scott (Bradley), 9-2; 145 — Jon Clegg (Huntsville) win by forfeit; 152 — Jacob Gerken (Bearden) tech. fall Hunter Fortner (Gibbs), 3:45; 160 — Lawrence Cotton (Walker Valley) pinned Nathan Wilson (Maryville), 3:39; 170 — Hunter Duff (Father Ryan) win by forfeit; 182 — Josh Spangler (Tennessee High) dec. Cody Gregory (William Blount), 6-2; 195 — Houston Hooker (Father Ryan) dec. Xavier Satterfield (William Blount), 7-4; 220 — Alex Weatherford (Franklin) dec. Ben Stacey (Father Ryan), 3-2; 285 — Austin Wells (Blackman) pinned Tyler Coppinger (Heritage), 2:44.