Cleveland takes charge in AAA state

Cleveland takes charge in AAA state

February 15th, 2014 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The Class AAA state wrestling championship was Cleveland's for the taking, while Baylor was chasing McCallie well behind Father Ryan in Division II and Hixson collapsed after leading A/AA heading into the semifinals.

Cleveland, seeking to win its third straight traditional championship and earn another dual/traditional tournament sweep, had a 40-point lead on second-place Wilson Central.

"We had a really good round Friday morning, winning seven of eight in the quarterfinals," Blue Raiders coach Jake Yost said. "We have only lost one wrestler [from the consolations], we've got five in the finals and that's the most since I've been here."

With consolation rounds still going on, the Blue Raiders had a shot at placing 10 of their 11 qualifiers.

"There are still a lot of points out there."

Cleveland's finalists are Chris Debien (126), Austin Stevison (132), Ezra Taylor (138), Josh Hamilton (17) and Ethan West (195).

The Blue Raiders had 174 points to 136 for Wilson Central, 122 for Bradley Central, 106 for Ravenwood and 100.5 for Soddy-Daisy. Walker Valley was seventh with 85.

Other AAA finalists included Bradley's Ryan McElhaney (106), Toribio Navarro (113) and Knox Fuller (120); Soddy-Daisy's Tucker Russo (138) and Gage Richmond (145); and Walker Valley's Billy Raulston (182).

In Division II, Father Ryan had 174 points to 135.5 for McCallie and 116 for Baylor. The next closest team was Christian Brothers with 57.5

"I guess we could catch [Father Ryan] if we wrestle really well tomorrow night and they don't," McCallie assistant Cody Cleveland said.

While McCallie placed seven in the finals, Father Ryan had eight to go with its 38.5-point lead.

The second question for oach Mike Newman was whether the Blue Tornado could maintain its lead over Baylor.

"If we wrestle really well, maybe," he said. "That morning [consolation] round is always big. We'll do our best and forget the rest."

McCallie finalists are Ethan Dendy (120), James Westbrooks (126), Brock Herring (132), Adam Connell (138), Griffin Davis (145), Nathan Hoodenpyle (182) and Trel Phillips (195). Baylor's finalists are Michael Murphy (113), Blake Sutherland (152), Bryson Popp (160), Cayman Seagraves (170), Ryan Parker (182) and Jon Schmissrauter (220).

Hixson won only one of its eight semifinal matches, that win going to 182-pound Dylan Bargerstock.

"I bet we've lost more one-point matches than anybody in the building," Wildcats coach Garrick Hall said. "If we wrestle well in the morning, we're right back in it."

Other Chattanooga-area A/AA representatives in the new classification's finals are Red Bank's Trent Comeaux (106), Gabe McDuffie (138) and Devin Crawl (170); East Ridge's DeAngelo Johnson (170) and C.J. Baker (285); Central's Xavier Norwood (152) and Truman Martin (195); Notre Dame's Luke Mullin (113), Packy Mullin (132) and Noah Bankston (145); Lookout Valley's Trent Walliser (120); and Signal Mountain's Warren Weaver (113), Cale Shelton (182) and Micah Pressley (220).

Walliser became Lookout Valley's first finalist since Tim Voiles, a two-time state champion.

Hixon was sitting in second place with 95.5 points, 9.5 behind surprise leader Alcoa. Notre Dame was fourth with 68, followed in order by Red Bank and Signal Mountain (66 each), East Ridge (64.5) and Central (58).

In one of the highlight matches, Signal Mountain's Weaver surrendered the lead with six seconds left and then got a reversal at the buzzer to become the Eagles' first state finalist.

In another close match, this one somewhat controversial, Fuller became Bradley Central's third finalist on a penalty point with 1.5 seconds left in the first overtime period. The match was against Tullahoma's Devin Cyree, who is coached by former Bradley wrestler Al Morris. Morris was ejected from the tournament after receiving a pair of unsportsmanlike calls.

• Jacob Stevens of Soddy-Daisy was recognized by the NWCA as Tennessee's 2012-13 wrestler of the year, and Cleveland's Al Miller was named NWCA national assistant coach of the year.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.