CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The top-ranked Cleveland High School wrestling team found itself tied with No. 5 Soddy-Daisy with one match to go Thursday night, but Cleveland's best wrestler was headed to the mat.
And Chris DeBien took full advantage of the moment.
DeBien's pin of Austin Houser at 126 pounds in 4:37 gave the Blue Raiders a 39-33 victory over the Trojans at the Jones Wrestling Center. The Cleveland junior allowed eight escape points to Houser and had a number of takedowns before finally getting the match-sealing pin.
The Trojans had defeated Cleveland 35-16 on Dec. 4 last season.
"This environment was so much fun. I just love wrestling when it all counts on me," DeBien said. "I like being able to go out and do my thing. I'm glad we were able to get this win for Coach [Jake] Yost. They had beat us pretty bad last year, and I know that this match is very important to him."
The difference this time came from bonus points, as only two of the 13 contested matches came down to a decision. Cleveland (6-1) claimed 18 extra points by virtue of a major decision, a technical-foul win and pins by DeBien, Austin Stevison (132), Ezra Taylor (138) and John Gaither (285), who just joined the team after the football team's season ended last Friday in the state semifinals.
Soddy-Daisy had 12 bonus points with three pins, a major decision and a technical fall.
"It's a good win for us. I'm thankful we have guys like John Gaither, who wanted to be here and wanted to wrestle even though football season had just ended Friday," Yost said. "Without his six points, I don't know where we'd be.
"It's all about February, though. We have to continue to improve. I saw a lot of good stuff but some other stuff we have to work on."
The pins for Soddy-Daisy (1-1) came from Landon Wheaton (106), Gage Richmond (160) and Hunter Maynor (195). Maynor's gave the Trojans their largest lead, 24-16, but Cleveland rallied, taking a 33-30 lead on Tristen Blansit's 15-0 technical-fall win at 113. Jacob McClure tied the match at 33 with a 5-2 decision before DeBien's win.
"It's early, so there are some lessons to be learned," Soddy-Daisy coach Jim Higgins said. "Every time we wrestle, it's like a litmus test, and you're looking for checks where we are in cardio, fighting spirit, technical ability and how we're wrestling on the mat.
"I definitely would have liked to have won, but you don't win them all. Sometimes you need to lose, so you can learn to be better."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.