Cleveland wrestlers win AAA state championship

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestlers set the mats — under the direction of coach Heath Eslinger — inside McKenzie Arena on Wednesday in preparation for the Southern Scuffle, the top national college wrestling tournament.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Thanks to Cleveland High School, the Chattanooga area's streak of winning a TSSAA traditional wrestling state championship was pushed to 18 seasons in a row Saturday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo.

The Blue Raiders handled business for a 30-plus point advantage in Class AAA before either of their two finalists hit the mat Saturday. Then Cleveland 152-pounder Austin Sweeney won an 8-5 decision over Josh Pietarila of Hardin Valley Academy to further seal the Blue Raiders' spot on top.

"A streak like that just shows how dedicated our area is to the sport. There's a lot of competition, so we know this is an accomplishment to be proud of," Cleveland coach Joey Knox said. "At the same time, though, this just has to be another day for us. We'll have the guys in the room on Monday, and we'll keep working."

Trae McDaniel at 106 pounds was the second Cleveland finalist to wrestle Saturday. He lost a 5-3 decision to undefeated Trey Bates from Beech.

Science Hill was the runner-up in Class AAA with 155 points, while Wilson Central (148.5) took third. Bradley Central (110) finished sixth, and Soddy-Daisy (59) was 14th.

Soddy-Daisy's Ty Boeck, who's set to play football for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, took the state title at 220 pounds.

McCallie finished second in Division II with seven finalists. The Blue Tornado began the final round within striking distance of Christian Brothers, and with early wins from Emory Taylor at 113 pounds and Cody Chittum at 120 they were looking to make a run for the top spot. McCallie 126-pounder Alex Whitworth went head-to-head with Christian Brothers and won, but the Memphis school pulled away from the Blue Tornado with two head-to-head wins.

"We've genuinely been getting better every week, and all those results showed today," McCallie coach Mike Newman said. "A lot of these guys are really young as well. As a coach you've got to love that."

After finishing as the runner-up in the state duals two weeks earlier, Baylor had three traditional state champions - Andrew Pace at 138 pounds, Mason Reiniche at 160 and Riley Westlake at 182 - and finished third in Division II. Notre Dame was seventh (54), Chattanooga Christian 14th (21) and Boyd-Buchanan 16th (14).

With one of the least experienced teams in the field, Hixson finished third in Class A/AA with 118 points and three finalists. The Wildcats' Trevor Lewis at 113, Charles Burton at 120 and Jordan Lewis at 138 all finished runners-up.

Gibbs (179) finished first in Class A/AA, while Forrest (126) was second.

Signal Mountain was fifth with 10-pound champion Daniel Uhorchuk, and Red Bank was 13th, East Ridge 14th and Sequatchie County 16th.

Chattanooga-area wrestlers earned more than 40 medals in tournament.

Contact John Mitchell at sports@timesfreepress.com.