CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Wrestling flows in the veins of Bradley County.
And for No. 1-ranked Cleveland High School looks extremely capable of a third straight sweep of the Class AAA state dual and traditional tournaments.
The Blue Raiders wasted no time asserting their power Thursday night, opening a crosstown rivalry match with four consecutive pins on their way to a 42-27 road win over third-ranked Bradley Central.
Senior Nate Schilling brought an end to his 160-pound match in just 32 seconds.
"Nate is one of our huge success stories," Cleveland coach Joey Knox said. "He would go wrestle every weekend and get his butt whupped when he first got here. But he stared adversity in the face and has worked his tail off. He's been behind some really good guys, and now it's his time. I would not be surprised if he won state as a first-time starter."
Cael Laxton opened the match by racking up nine first-period points before his second-period pin. Senior Zach Brezna followed Schilling with a pin in the last four seconds of the second period after building a 12-4 lead.
At 182, Te'toe Boyd carried on the streak as he stuck his opponent in the final period to build a 24-0 lead for the Blue Raiders.
"We had some hammers open up the match (at 152)," said Brezna, a four-year starter. "We wanted to go out there and set the tone of the match, and we were able to. This program has shaped me into the man I am today. It's shown me heart and what hard work and dedication can bring.
"We are a family, and that's how we roll. Everyone pushes each other harder at practice, and we want to keep it rolling one after the other."
Cleveland has an overall record of 80-3 under Knox and is 11-1 this season with the loss coming out of state to a team in Georgia.
With reigning state champion Jackson Bradford (120) sitting out Thursday's match, there is still room for improvement.
"Our guys are always buying in and seeing what they need to be doing," Knox said. "Zach has been a tremendous leader. He's not scared and went out there after his guy tonight. We have a lot more in the tank still, though. We have to take care of business and get our guys back from injury so we can take care of a state title."
Despite the big early deficit, Bradley Central did not pack things in as a program with 26 team state titles all-time won four of the next six matches.
Tyrone McDonald started that flurry with a 7-2 decision at 195, and heavyweight Austin McClure registered a second-round pin for the Bears.
In a showdown of No. 1- vs. 2 state-ranked wrestlers at 106 pounds, top-ranked Ethan Wilson held a 4-0 lead and survived a late takedown by Cleveland's Bentley Ellison for a one-point decision.
Luke Belcher cut the deficit to 30-18 with a third-period pin after leading 10-3 over Jax Godfrey in the 120-pound match.
But Blue Raiders reigning state champion and Army commitment Trae McDaniel sealed the victory as a strong cradle earned a second-period pin and 36-18 lead. Senior Garrett Stevenson ended the match with his team's sixth pin.
"This team has a bunch of hard workers, and we all have the drive to win," McDaniel said. "Everyone works hard in the weightroom. We lost seven seniors, but there has been no fall-off at all."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.