FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Cleveland was making a strong run Thursday for the Tennessee Class AAA wrestling championship, but Wilson Central was even stronger.
The team that was embarrassed by the Blue Raiders here two weekends ago in the state duals final played nip-and-tuck with them in Friday night's opening rounds.
With a handful of consolation matches remaining, Wilson Central had a six-point lead.
Both advanced eight to this morning's championship quarterfinals. Cleveland brought 11 qualifiers and Wilson Central had 13.
"Everybody scored points and we won a few tough matches in the second round," Cleveland coach Jake Yost said. "You're not really going to start separating from the field until some people get eliminated and teams start earning placement points."
Region 4 had four of the top 10 in team scoring. Wilson Central led the way with 73 points while Cleveland had 67. Bradley Central was a surprising third with 60 points. Walker Valley was crowding the Bears with 55 points, 1.5 better than fifth-place Cookeville. Maryville Heritage was sixth with 51 points while Soddy-Daisy had 48.5 for seventh. The rest of the top 10 were Ravenwood (44.5), Collierville (43) and Brentwood (41).
Walker Valley had six in the quarterfinals, Bradley five and Soddy-Daisy three.
Class AAA will share the stage today with Class A/AA and Division II, and all three divisions will start at 11 a.m. EST. Class AAA will start with quarterfinals and the third round of consolations, A/AA will open with its 24-man brackets and DII has its wrestle-in for the eighth spot in the bracket and then quarterfinals.
East Hamilton is not in the team championship running but has firsts by advancing two wrestlers -- Briar Potter at 106 pounds and Matt Meeks at 120 -- to this morning's quarterfinals.
"And both pinned their way there," Hurricanes coach Ryan Cooper said. "Those two kids have been with us since middle school. They're doing what we're preaching and it's starting to pay off. Those two guys getting to the quarterfinals lets our guys know what we're preaching is going to help them get where they want to be."
East Hamilton made the jump to AAA this season and might have performed even better if more than a half-dozen former middle school champions were wrestling instead of walking the halls.
"We're in the hardest region in the state, and our guys are beginning to compete with those teams," Cooper said. "We've had some guys transfer, some guys that think the sport is too hard and then some that are concentrating on other sports."
• Of the 224 first-round matches, more than half (133) were decided by pin. There also were 13 forfeits in which wrestlers either failed to weigh in or didn't make weight.
• One of the 13 wrestlers not allowed to compete was Blackman's Tyler Garrison. The 152-pounder had a split at the corner of his mouth and was ruled out for medical reasons. He has a 36-0 record.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.