CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Pope High from Marietta, Ga., and Christian Brothers from Memphis raised a few eyebrows Saturday, but none came up when the two wrestled for the Cleveland Duals championship.
The tournament had its state of state-ranked teams including host Cleveland, Soddy-Daisy, Baylor, McCallie and Father Ryan, but Pope and Christian Brothers entered the year on a different plateau -- nationally ranked 45th and 48th, respectively.
Surviving a fairly strong gauntlet, Pope snatched the championship trophy -- 45-21 over the Purple Wave -- and skipped back across the state line before anybody could think about asking for a rematch.
It isn't certain that anyone would have.
"They're that good," host coach Jake Yost said.
The Greyhounds skipped through their pool unbeaten, and really without a challenge, and advanced to a semifinal with Soddy-Daisy, which entered the week ranked No. 5 in Tennessee. The Greyhounds broke a sweat but still gained the championship with a double-digit victory over the Trojans.
"We wrestled well all day long and I saw positives all over the place," coach Jim Higgins said of Soddy-Daisy's 3-0 romp through its pool.
After that, though, his blood sugar plummeted while his blood pressure rocketed.
"If you sign on for something you need to finish it, and I think our guys decided we were done for the day before we wrestled Pope," he said. "I felt like we punched out on the time clock before that last one ever got going, and I don't like it."
In a battle of the state's top-ranked teams, Christian Brothers assured itself of moving up to No. 1 when it sneaked past the Blue Raiders 35-33.
"We wrestled OK," Yost said. "We fought hard in some spots, but we gave up bonus points where we shouldn't, and you can't do that and expect to win. It's something to fix."
The Blue Raiders did it against Baylor and managed to win.
"We beat a good team doing it, but Baylor was nowhere near full strength," Yost said. "It's three 'W's, which is good, but it is far from the kind of performance we'd like."
Cleveland won two dual meets Thursday and then beat Father Ryan on Friday before reeling off three more wins Saturday before the loss to Christian Brothers.
McCallie was 2-2 overall (2-1) in pool play, while Baylor, with some injuries and some absentees for college entrance exams, went 1-3, its only win coming over Woodland by 20 points.
Father Ryan finished 3-1, losing only to Soddy-Daisy (35-22 in pool competition). One of the surprise performances came from Maryville Heritage, which supposedly became the first Knoxville-area team ever to beat Baylor. Heritage defeated Bradley Central last Thursday.
Soddy-Daisy and Cleveland were penciled in to wrestle for third place, but the two decided to skip it because they're scheduled to wrestle Thursday at Soddy-Daisy.
It will be the first head coaching confrontation for Higgins and Yost, each a disciple of wrestling veteran and longtime Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry.
"I hope both of us can come will all of our bullets in the guns," Yost said. "It will be a fun night."
Yost was pretty much raised in the Soddy-Daisy Wrestling Arena, and while he admitted to having good memories he said, "I think I want to go win a dual meet.
"I think we'll bring a good group, and I think if both teams have everybody in the lineup it will be a great match."
Higgins also is looking forward to the battle, which could be a classic.
"It's a highly anticipated match, and there was a lot of talk in the preseason," he said. "Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy have wrestled so many times over the teams, I don't think there will be many surprises. It's like a book you've already read, but I think each of us would anticipate different lineups by the end of the year."
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 ...