It wasn't February but it was a tournament, so Ben Smith wanted to show something in his inaugural invitational showing as Bradley Central's head wrestling coach.
Saturday evening, he left Ooltewah with a tournament championship plaque clutched in one hand and enough notes to keep the Bears busy for a week wadded in the other.
"I'll always remember this -- my first one. It's like your first car. You don't forget," he said after Bradley scored 210 points to win the Keith Johnson Memorial team title by 59 1/2 points over runner-up Wilson Central.
Walker Valley was third with 126 points. Cookeville, Centennial, East Ridge and Ooltewah were fourth through seventh.
While it may not have been the dominating performance Bradley fans are used to seeing -- Smith is breaking in a half-dozen replacements -- the Bears had five champions among eight finalists and a fourth-place finisher. Wilson Central, Centennial and Ooltewah were the only other teams with more than one champ, and each had two.
The winners were Greeneville's Jon Boatman (106), Bradley's Dakota Ream (113), Wilson's Nick Insalaco (120), Bradley's Jericho Crutcher (126), Wilson's Austin Richard (132), Walker Valley's Caleb Langford (138), Bradley's Robbie Clark (145), Centennial's Parker Smith (152), Bradley's Jacob Bailey (160), Ooltewah's Matt Sealor (170), Dickson County's Jake Tyler (182), Centennial's Zack Patton (195), Ooltewah's Jay Rudwall (220) and Bradley's Patrick Benson (285).
Smith was named Bradley's head coach last March after colorful veteran Steve Logsdon decided to retire.
"It's good to get this one out of the way. Everybody's looking at us to see what we're going to do," Smith said. "Half of me says it's no big deal, and the other half says it's all about February."
It was about what he expected.
"Where we didn't place is where we are inexperienced," he said. "Elsewhere we have guys giving effort but they haven't bought into the system. We have some guys I want to go hard all the time because they're capable of winning a lot if they will."
Tyler Schuch was upset at 152 pounds, and Bailey survived at 160.
"Schuch lost but I'd rather him lose now than in February, and Bailey had a tough match, so right now even with our veterans it's a work in progress," Smith said. "
"They're tough as usual," Walker Valley coach Alan Morris said. "They won this tournament. That's what they do."
Though his team finished third, Morris was disappointed.
"I'm not certain we could have won this tournament, but we need to perform at that [Bradley] level and we're not doing that," he said. "We didn't show much toughness top to bottom."
Added assistant Hank Rains: "We don't wrestle hard through every situation, and we're getting outhustled."
"I'm glad it's early in the year because we have a lot of work to do," he said.
Legend and team scores
- Bradley Central (BC) 210, 2. Wilson Central (WC) 151.5, 3. Walker Valley (WV) 126, 4. Cookeville (Cook), 113, 5. Centennial (Cen) 98, 6. East Ridge (ER) 94, 7. Ooltewah (Ool) 90, 8. Dickson County (DC) 78, 9. Auburn City (Aub) 75.5, 10. Hardin Valley (HV) 49, 11. East Hamilton (EH) 42, 12. Greeneville (Gr) 29, 13. Silverdale Baptist (SB) 25, 14. Sale Creek (SC) 21.5, 15. Warren County (WC) 21, 16. Chattanooga Christian (CCS) 19.
For first: Jon Boatman (Gr) dec. Dyer Rose (BC), 5-2. For third: Lane Dickerson (WC) dec. Trent Walliser (CCS), 8-4.
For first: Dakota Ream (BC) tech fall over Brandon Whitley (ER), 6:00. For third: Christian Cerrito (WC) pinned Aaron Harris (Aub), 2:40.
For first: Nick Insalaco (WC) tech. fall Dakota Bromley, 6:00. For third: Brooks Knight (Cen) pinned Andrew Fite (CCS), 1:15.
For first: Jericho Crutcher (BC) dec. Paul Agnew (Cen), 3-2. For third: Tyrus Hamrick (WV) pinned Eddie Samll (WC), 2:22.
For first: Austin Richard (WC) dec. Hunter Davis (WV), 6-4. For third: Beau Badon (DC) dec. Dylan Spurlock (Aub).
For first: Caleb Langford (WV) dec. Raffy Agulera (ER), 11-4. For third: Taylor Frye (Cook) pinned Jackson Beggs (HV), 0:52.
For first: Robbie Clark (BC) dec. Nick Lamb (Cook), 8-3. For third: Cody Lane (Aub) pinned Coby Walker (ER), 4:36.
For first: Parker Smith (Cen) dec. Tyler Schuch (BC), 11-5. For third: Dalton Satterfield (Cook) major dec. David Stephens (ER), 14-1.
For first: Jacob Bailey (BC) dec. Ben Knox (DC), 11-7. For third: Tim Vara (HV) dec. Cody Winston (Cook), 8-4.
For first: Matt Sealor (Ool) dec. Nathan Davis (SC), 4-2. For third: Chase Gregory (WV) dec. Tait Rakestraw (BC), 4-2.
For first: Jake Tyler (DC) dec. David Vaigneur (HV), 9-4. For third: Jordan Zink (Ool) major dec. Perry Baltz (WC), 3:15.
For first: Zack Patton (Cen) dec. Billy Raulston (WV), 11-7. For third: Darren Houston (Cook) dec. Alex Kim (Aub), 5-1.
For first: Jay Rudwall (Ool) major dec. Francisco Rodriguez (EH), 11-0. For third: John Kramer (WC) pinned Crew Bennett (Aub), 3:45.
For first: Patrick Benson (BC) dec. Josh Mackey (SB), 6-2. For third: C.J. Baker (ER) major dec. Randy Cole (Ool), 13-2.
Best wrestler: Parker Smith, Centennial. Best match: 145--Robbie Clark (BC) vs. Nick Lamb (Cook).
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...