CENTRAL 40, NOTRE DAME 32
(Meet started at 106 pounds)
106--Tucker Gill (ND) won by forfeit; 113--Ned Warwick (ND) won by forfeit; 120--Luke Mullin (ND) pinned Coty Reels, 2:30; 126--Isaac Coffman (C) major dec. Jared Nelson, 11-3; 132--Packy Mullin (ND) dec. Bryson Lemons, 6-4; 138--Hans Casseus (C) pinned Casey Brock, 5:21; Alonzo Heyward (C) dec. Noan Bankston, 8-4; 152--David Norwood (C) won by forfeit; 160--Jaylen Stinson (C) dec. Jonathan Griggs, 7-4; 170--Michael Qualtrano (ND) pinned Patrick McGehee, 1:49; 182--Brian Sledge (C) won by forfeit; 195--Truman Martin (C) won by forfeit; 220--Patrick Hornsby (ND) tech. fall over Curtis Norseaux, 5:20; 285--Sam Stephenson (C) pinned Hunter Whiting, 3:13. Records: Central 5-5; Notre Dame 5-10.
Hans Casseus weighed in at 130 pounds but in a night of forfeits, switches and weight-swapping, the first-year wrestler found himself at 138 pounds and his pin was pivotal in Central's 40-32 victory over Notre Dame.
It was a strange night from the start -- from the Irish allowing the visiting Pounders to hold their senior night ceremonies to the strategizing and maneuvering by host coach John Mullin and visiting coach John Lennon, a Mullin assistant for 10 years.
Almost lost in the shuffle was Central securing a return to the state duals on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Franklin. A handful of the Pounders have been there before and 195-pound Truman Martin, one of two seniors, helped them to their second straight state title in 2012.
The night belonged, however, to Casseus, who two years ago was in Haiti amid thousands of earthquake victims. A year ago he was in Florida before his family moved to Chattanooga in order for his parents to find work.
And the soccer-playing athlete found his way into the Pounders' wrestling practice room.
"I think, really, he opened the wrong door, but I saw what he had and told him he wasn't leaving," Lennon said. "The dude is lightning fast."
Soccer was indeed Casseus' sport of choice but now he has a challenge to his previous athletic passion.
"I think he didn't want to let me go because I try my best and work to get better every day," he said.
His pin was one of four on the night, two for each team. Luke Mullin (120) and Michael Qualtrano picked up pins for the Irish and Sam Stephenson (285) joined Casseus with Pounder pins.
Central won eight of the 14 weight classes, three by forfeit, while Notre Dame received forfeits to open the meet at 106 and 113. Mullin, bumping up a weight class, gave the Irish an 18-0 lead and they extended it to 21-4 before Central rallied.
The Pounders, starting with the Casseus pin, won four straight and Jaylen Stinson's 7-4 victory at 160 gave them a 22-21 advantage. However, Qualtrano's six-point allowed the Irish to regain the lead, 27-22. Two forfeits boosted Central to a 34-27 advantage but Chris Hornsby's technical fall moved the Irish back in striking distance at 34-32.
Central heavyweight Sam Stephenson ended the drama, though, with a second-period pin.
"That match could have gone either way, but honestly, when the season started I had no thoughts of us getting to the state duals," Lennon said. "I didn't think we had a chance, but this group of kids has bought in and gotten closer and closer as the season has progressed."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...