CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley Central's wrestling coaches tried not to show it, but they were on pins and needles before their invitational tournament Friday and Saturday.
They'd seen improvement from a season-opening championship at the Ooltewah Invitational, but they didn't know what to expect after a one-point dual meet win over Chattanooga Central a couple of weeks back.
After his team scored a 30.5-point victory in its own tournament Saturday, first-year head coach Ben Smith decided to pocket his "Thank goodness it isn't February" speech.
"We're showing more maturity. The less experienced guys are performing more to expectations, and the more experienced guys are wrestling more to the expectations of Bradley wrestling," the coach said after his team scored 211.5 points to easily outdistance runner-up the 181 second-place points for Hoover (Ala.) High.
Hixson, which has been coming to the tournament for years, earned its first Bradley Invitational plaque with a third-place finish on a 143-point showing. Scottsboro (Ala.) was fourth (135) and Central was fifth at 129.
Bradley had eight medalists. After getting six to the semifinals and putting five of those in the finals, the Bears had three champions: Dakota Ream (113), Dakota Bromley (120) and Patrick Benson (285).
Defending state champion Benson also won the event's most pins award, pinning his way to his gold medal and getting five in a total of 8:15. Best wrestler was 152-pound Chase McClure of Scottsboro, and the best-match designation went to Bromley and Dalton's Alex O'Campo.
Hixson's Garrick Hall is one coach who won't sell Bradley short.
"They're becoming a really good team. People have been saying they're down but they're plugging away and they'll surprise some folks," he said.
"Our effort and fight was much better [than earlier in the year]," Smith said. "These guys are beginning to remember, or are learning that if you go hard winning will take care of itself."
Hoover also had three champions.
Joining Bradley as winners from the Chattanooga area were Notre Dame's Jack Boone (132) and Central's Sam Sledge (195).
Hall, whose team will host the Vandergriff Duals on Wednesday, wasn't satisfied, but he also saw some progress.
"We improved over last year -- six medalists this time and just one last year -- and we pinned a lot of folks in the early rounds," he said. "Some of [our guys] didn't wrestle to their potential, but we definitely had some bright spots."
Bradley Central Invitational
Team scores: 1. Bradley Central (BC) 211.5, 2. Hoover, Ala. (Hoo) 181, 3. Hixson (Hix) 143, 4. Scottsboro, Ala. (S) 135, 5. Central (Cen) 129, 6. Blackman (Bl) 115.5, 7. Woodward Academy (WA) 109.5, 8. Dalton (D) 108, 9. Southeast Whitfield (SW) 106.5, 10. Walker Valley (WV) 106, 11. Maryville Heritage (MH) 101, 11. Notre Dame (ND) 101, 13. Maryville (M) 85, 14. William Blount (WB) 73, 15. Ooltewah (Ool) 69, 16. Signal Mountain (SM) 67.5, 17. Knox Halls (KH) 62, 18. Rhea County (RC) 59, 19. North Cobb (NC) 56.5, 19. East Ridge (ER) 56.5, 21. Mt. Juliet (MJ) 55, 22. Eagleville (E) 43, 23. Seymour (Sey) 42, 24. East Hamilton (EH) 36, 25. Tennessee High (TH) 33.
For 1st: Jackson Hall (Hoo) dec. Max Pastor (Wood), 5-0. For 3rd: Omar Ruiz (SE) major dec. Arick Shankles (S), 14-6. For 5th: Dyer Rose (BC) pinned Caden Pennington (Eagle), 0:36.
For 1st: Dakota ream (BC) dec. Luis Juan (D), 4-0. For 3rd: Peyton Garlington (Hoo) pinned Brandon Whitley (ER), 1:53. For 5th: Titus Worthen (S) pinned Jeremy Taylor (TH), 2:49.
For 1st: Dakota Bromley (BC) dec. Alex O'Campo (D), 6-5. For 3rd: Ty Gramam (Hoo) pinned Avery Hawk (WB), 2:00. For 5th: Jeremy White (SW) won by default over Steven Sklavenitis (Hix).
For 1st: Brandon Womack (S) dec. Jericho Crutcher (BC), 2-0. For 3rd: Isaiah Hawthorne (Hix) pinned Jesus Dominguez (SW), 1:16. For 5th: Legrand Sommers (Bl) won by default over Packy Mullin (ND).
For 1st: Jack Boone (ND) dec. Chandler Pike (WA), 4-1. For 3rd: Cole Bartlett (S) pinned Hunter Davis (WV), 3:46. For 5th: Edward Davila (Bl) pinned Joe Falls (KH), 0:53.
For 1st: Taylor Garlington (Hoo) dec. Caleb Langford (WV), 5-3. For 3rd: Logan Griffith (Cen) major dec. Gio Palacio (Hix), 10-2. For 5th: Chase White (ND) dec. Gene Lewis (MH), 6-0.
For 1st: Jackson Poe (Hoo) dec. Chad Pyke (Wood), 7-5. For 3rd: Grayson Mullin (ND) major dec. Tyler Garrison (Bl), 18-7. For 5th: Zac Fordham (Cen) major dec. Robbie Clark (BC), 8-0.
For 1st: Chase McClure (S) dec. Tyler Schuch (BC), 10-4. For 3rd: Mike Frazy (Cen) dec. Jake Mumpower (Hoo), 7-3. For 5th: Tyler Sells (Bl) dec. Aaron Alemany (Hix), 5-2.
For 1st: Keegan Matlock (MH) pinned Justin Mathieson (Hix), 1:25. For 3rd: Jacob Bailey (BC) pinned Renaldo Torres (D), 3:15. For 5th: Blake Solomon (E) dec. Matt Seaman (MJ), 6-5.
For 1st: Jaron Brock (M) dec. Matt Sealor (Ool), 4-1. For 3rd: Chase Gregory (WV) pinned Joel Payne (MH), 4:52. For 5th: Alex Charest (MJ) major dec. Joe Dreddan (SM), 13-2.
For 1st: Conner Rohrbaugh (KH) won by injury default over Ethan Beddingfield (RC). For 3rd: Alec Shunnarah (Hoo) dec. Sidney Wheeler (D), 8-4. For 5th: Harrison Hall (SM) dec. Jordan Zink (Ool), 6-1.
For 1st: Sam Sledge (Cen) pinned Billy Raulston (WV), 5:14. For 3rd: Nate Dilts (MJ) dec. Brandon Cantrell (ER), 2-1. For 5th: Hakeen Sawyer (NC) dec. Zach Cochran (RC), 4-2.
For 1st: T.J. Satterfield (WB) dec. Jay Rudwall (Ool), 5-1. For 3rd: Francisco Rodriguez (EH) dec. Christian Varner (Hix), 3-2. For 5th: Carlos Fraire (SW) dec. Michael Vickers (WA), 8-4.
For 1st: Patrick Benson (BC) pinned Joey Evans (MH), 2:41. For 3rd: Zack Calhoun (Cen) pinned Austin Wells (Bl), 4:09. For 5th: Adam Hoffman (M) dec. Jose Ortiz (SW), 6-4.
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 ...