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Bradley Central's Larry Johnson, top, turns Knoxville Halls' Mitchell Hill during their 170-pound match Friday at the TSSAA state duals championships in Franklin, Tenn. Johnson pinned Hill in the first round to help the Bears win the first-round dual 50-26.
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Wrestling state duals

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FRANKLIN — There is no denying tonight's TSSAA Division II wrestling state duals championship final will be one to remember for local rivals Baylor and McCallie.

George W. Bush was still in the White House and the No. 1 hit in the country was Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" the last time the Red Raiders and the Blue Tornado threw down for all the bragging rights.

On Friday, the Red Raiders survived 30-28 in the semifinals over Father Ryan, while the Blue Tornado took down reigning champion Christian Brothers 37-36 to set up title dual between Chattanooga-area programs at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park.

Their final is set for 6:30 p.m. EST, with Baylor (18-0) looking for its 24th state title all-time and McCallie (10-4) in search of its 15th.

"We want the guys to be intense and get after it," Red Raiders coach Ben Nelson said. "Our team is at its best when we keep it loose and have fun. We will have to be ready to battle tomorrow. We are thankful for the opportunity we have been given."

Baylor landed a major swing of momentum against Father Ryan when eighth-grader Michael Tisdale took a 10-2 major decision over an experienced senior wrestler, and Red Raiders senior 170-pounder Mason Reiniche secured a 12-second pin. Baylor trailed 6-0 early but gritted its teeth in the tough battle.

Matthew Smith avoided taking a pin to help hold off a late rally attempt.

"That was the ultimate team effort," Nelson said. "All year we have only had one tournament where we had no less than two guys out of the lineup. Our guys have battled through adversity well all season."

McCallie 182-pounder Thomas Sell sealed a dominant dual victory with his team's fifth pin, putting the Blue Tornado ahead 37-12 with four matches left. The D-II semifinals matches began at 113.

"We had several guys come out and wrestle today that haven't in weeks," Blue Tornado coach Jake Yost said. "We have our team as healthy as they can be. We scored a lot of bonus points in the lower weights. We also had an eighth-grader (Jetty Miller) win at 152 pounds twice today."

While seven local teams began the day in Franklin, only four are left in the title hunt, and that includes another possible rivalry in the Class AAA championship final.

Fourth-ranked Bradley Central took down second-ranked Wilson Central 38-30 in a semifinal.

The Bears (25-6) sealed it when junior Ethan Wilson (106) pinned his opponent. Gavin Hughes (132) and Seth Gerena (160) each picked up monumental pins for Bradley.

"If the match matters, you are going to fight," Bears coach Ben Smith said. "Our guys did that. It was great to see Ethan win such a big match like that as a first-year starter for us. We had to bump at some spots, and our guys came through under the pressure."

The Bears will take on Science Hill in the semifinals at 2 p.m. EST. Bradley beat Science Hill earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Bradley rival Cleveland handled business with relative ease as Class AAA's first-ranked squad outscored Sevier County and Centennial a combined 129-18.

The Blue Raiders (35-1) will take on Blackman in the semifinals, and a possible final dance with the Bears could come to life at 6:30 p.m. EST.

"We are feeling fresh," Cleveland coach Joey Knox said. "We could have a Bradley County finals match. They had a big win tonight. I am happy for them. Our guys are hungry and looking to cement a strong legacy here this week."

Signal Mountain fell 46-18 in a Class A-AA semifinal to Nolensville.

In the A-AA quarterfinals, Hixson (30-5) led 19-0 and 28-6 early but fell to Fairview in the final match and lost 39-34.

Chattanooga Christian (14-7) also competed in D-II, but the Chargers lost 75-0 to Christian Brothers in an opening quarterfinal.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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