The No. 1-ranked Cleveland wrestling Blue Raiders used the strength of three pins and three major decisions to pull off a 39-18 win over the Walker Valley Mustangs Thursday night at Cleveland.
The Raiders got pins from Chris DeBien at 126 pounds, Koran Kennedy at 220 and Tristan Blansit at 113. Ezra Taylor (138), Jonathan Martin (152) and Ethan West (195) earned the major decisions.
“I thought we had a lot of hustle and a lot of fight versus a strong team that came in here ready to wrestle. They looked good on Tuesday for the most part, and I knew they were going to come in here ready to wrestle,” said Cleveland coach Jake Yost. “They won a couple of close matches but our guys fought hard. The continued to work and score points. I thought our guys did a good job at pretty much every weight class.”
Billy Raulston picked up the only pin for the Mustangs at 182.
“We wrestled the No. 1-ranked team in the state and they showed why they are the No. 1 team. But tonight I am proud of the effort we gave. In every weight we battled. Sometimes we were outmanned, but we went out there and fought like we have been wanting,” said Mustangs coach Al Morris. “We still have issues with technique and stuff we are going to be working on, but we still have more time. I’m never happy about losing, but about the effort, I really feel good.”
Walker Valley’s Drake Haney (106) capped off a hot streak with his third win in a week over a state-ranked opponent. Haney defeated the No. 4 wrestler Saturday at the Walker Valley Duals. The senior Mustang picked up his second victory over the No. 1-ranked wrestler Tuesday against Bradley Central and completed the trifecta with a win over the No. 3 wrester in Tennessee Thursday.
“It (the win) was huge. We got pinned by Landers the last time, who is a great young freshman wrestler. Tonight Drake goes out there and gets the win,” said an obviously proud and excited Morris. “He beat the No. 4-ranked guy at our tournament, he beat the No. 1-ranked guy Tuesday and tonight he beat No. 3. If he will stay focused, he will be fine.”
Starting at 120 pounds, the Blue Raiders led 16-0 before the Mustangs picked up a decision at 145 to make it 16-3. After two more bouts, Cleveland led 23-6 before Raulston’s win made it 23-12. West and Kennedy gave the Raiders a 33-12 lead.
Zach Miller (285) and Haney cut the Cleveland lead to 33-18 before Blansit closed out the night with a pin to make it a 39-18 final in favor of the Raiders.
Morris said he feels if the Mustangs can keep up the intensity level showed against Cleveland, the rest of the season could produce some good things for the Mustangs.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “Tonight, on paper we were outmanned and we could have laid down. We didn’t do that. We fought them. It didn’t come out the way we wanted, but the effort — we’re going to build on that.”
Yost said the Blue Raiders are moving toward their goal of peaking at the right time and are continuing to improve with each match.
“We’re getting there,” he said. “It’s one of those things where every match I feel we are doing a little better and a little better. I feel we are going to be at our best at the right time.”
BLUE RAIDERS 39, MUSTANGS 18
(Match started at 120)
106 — Drake Haney (WV), dec. Colton Landers (C), 9-7; 113 — Tristan Blansit (C) pinned Zane Smith (WV), 1:31; 120 — Taylor Bishop (C), dec; Logan Smith (WV),9-3; 126 — Christopher DeBien (C), pinned Austin Gregory (WV), 3:28; 132 — Austin Stevison (C), dec. Joseph Munoz (WV), 4-2; 138 — Ezra Taylor (C), major dec. Mikel Gregory (WV), 12-1; 145 — Tyrus Hamrick (WV), dec. William Haas (C), 7-5; 152 — Jonathan Martin (C), maj. dec. Dionte Richardson (WV), 12-1; 160 — Ryan Hager (WV), dec. Aaron Oliver (C), 3-1; 170 — Josh Hamilton (C), dec. Lawrence Cotton (WV), 4-1; 182 —Billy Raulston (WV), pinned Samuel Garcia (C), 1:06; 195 — Ethan West (C), major dec. Ric Kennett (WV), 13-0; 220 — Koran Kennedy (C), pinned Xzayvier Beckingham (WV), 5:05; 285 — Zack Miller (WV), dec. John Gaither (C), 4-3.