McCallie, Soddy Daisy wrestlers end title droughts with state duals crowns; Cleveland boys and girls win again

Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Cleveland's Jose Cordero, top, wrestles in Saturday's TSSAA Class AA state duals in Franklin.
Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Cleveland's Jose Cordero, top, wrestles in Saturday's TSSAA Class AA state duals in Franklin.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — McCallie and Soddy Daisy are back on top of their respective ranks in Tennessee prep wrestling.

The two traditionally successfuly programs won TSSAA state duals championships Saturday night at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center.

For the first time since 2006, McCallie won a team state title as the Blue Tornado used an epic comeback in the Division II-AAA title dual to take down 2023 champion Father Ryan.

Trailing 31-23 with three matches left to wrestle, it was eighth grader Dylan Villers who sparked the rally with a nailbiting 3-2 decision at 138 pounds. What followed next was pure madness.

Eighth grader Cooper Ledbetter (144) pinned his opponent in the second round to give McCallie a one-point lead and leave the outcome up to Zaydan Morgan (150). The McCallie freshman showed incredible concentration and strong form while building a 4-2 lead into the third period, which he ended by pinning his opponent's back to the mat, giving the Blue Tornado a 38-31 victory and the title.

"We have done so much work in the room this season. Even on snow days, we made sure to get down there and put in hard work," Morgan said. "To have the honor to do this for McCallie this year and get out here and win a state title is the best thing ever. We dreamed big and believed we could make this happen. This is a surreal moment for all of us."

McCallie (10-2) had four eighth graders in its starting lineup and picked up big victories in the title dual from sophomores Axel Ritchie (113) and Cooper Gentle (215) and seniors Carson Gentle (285), Ja'von McMahan (190) and James Cross (175). Both Gentle brothers pinned, with Carson picking up his in just 25 seconds. Ritchie, McMahan and Cross all won with major decisions.

"We have such great leadership from our older seniors and our coaching staff, and the young guys on this team have done a great job and really helped us finish something special," McCallie coach Jake Yost said. "I am so happy for the guys. This is a big night for us and one that has been a long time coming. We have had some crazy finishes the last couple of weeks, and this tops it all off."

The Blue Tornado cruised to a 52-18 semifinal victory earlier in the day against Christian Brothers, which then lost 43-24 to Baylor in the consolation final as the Red Raiders finished third.

This is McCallie's seventh state duals title 15th team state title overall.


Meanwhile, Soddy Daisy ended a decade-plus drought with its first team state title since 2012.

The Trojans finished off an undefeated dual season by pummeling Tullahoma 44-16 in the Class A final to wrap up a 34-0 record. Earlier, Soddy Daisy raced to a 40-6 lead over Munford in the quarterfinals and a 42-6 lead over Station Camp in the semifinals before forfeiting the rest of the matches in each dual with the victory secured.

"This is so crazy," Soddy Daisy senior Drew Lewis said. "My freshman year we started out really rough. We didn't even have a full team. It was hard for us to go out there, and COVID messed us up. But Coach (Ulrich) Winesburgh really helped build this team to where it stands today. Shane Turner also has helped us a lot and is a legend. It's crazy we are back on the top and have showed we can compete with anybody."

Two more Chattanooga-area teams also celebrated Saturday night as both Cleveland squads won state duals titles.

In Class AA, the Blue Raiders cruised to their seventh straight state duals title as they built a 38-0 lead over Knoxville Halls in the title match before forfeiting the last six bouts. The win was the 141st straight dual victory for coach Joey Knox's team, which has never come up short of a state title in his tenure.

"For us to continue the legacy is really awesome," said Cleveland senior Logan Fowler, a nationally ranked wrestler who helped deliver team state title No. 26 overall for the program. "My goal was to be someone others could look up to one day. This program is only going to get stronger and stronger."

Cleveland's Lady Raiders won their second straight state duals championship as they took down Clarksville 36-32 in the final.

"To be a part of this program is amazing," senior Bella Harris said. "This is a historic wrestling tradition we have at Cleveland. Today shows how much more we do and the hard work and dedication we constantly put in. This is incredible."

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