CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley Central wrestling coach Ben Smith wanted his team to put themselves in a position Saturday afternoon to claim the title of the Bradley Invitational. They gave themselves that chance -- but fell short of their final pursuit.
Father Ryan finished with five champions, and went on to claim the tournament title with a total of 279 points. Bradley finished a distant second with 200.5 points, while Walker Valley was fourth out of 29 teams with 127.5 points.
Also locally, Hixson finished 13th, East Ridge was 16th, Notre Dame was 19th, Central was 24th and East Hamilton 26th.
The Bears sent five wrestlers to the championship, but were unable to claim victories in any. They had second-place finishes from Ryan McElhaney (106), Toribio Navarro (113), Hunter Parker (126), Taylor Kazy (132) and Brett Brown (182). Smith also praised the performance of Knox Fuller (120), who earned a third-place finish in the consolation.
"When things don't end the way you want to, you're upset," Smith said. "But I grade my guys on effort and results, so when I take a step back and look at the big picture, I thought we did well. We wanted to put ourselves in a position to get Father Ryan in the finals; we wanted to send a message to the state.
"We got out-foxed in a couple of spots where the guys were just better, but I grade on effort and thought we did well today."
Walker Valley, Notre Dame and East Ridge each had one finalist. The Mustangs' Zack Miller (285) was pinned by defending state champion Bruno Reagan of Clarksville; the Irish's Noah Bankston (145) lost a major-decision to Father Ryan's Marcelo Morrice; and East Ridge's DeAngelo Johnson (170) dropped a 7-4 decision to Etowah's Bronson Reichsteiner.
"I wasn't happy with how we performed," Walker Valley coach Al Morris said. "We saw there were too many things we needed to work on, but we have to get better; we have to get guys healthy; and we have to get them in the right weight classes. I thought there were a few spots where we wrstled above our seeds, and that's good because we're wrestling for February and we're going to run into matches where we have to find a way to win close."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.