CLEVELAND -- Ben Smith didn't hesitate when asked before Tuesday night's wrestling match with cross-town rival Cleveland if his kids were ready.
Without batting an eye, he turned and said, "Absolutely."
The energetic Bradley coach sounded somewhat like a prophet about 90 minutes later after his Bears had come from behind to beat the two-time defending state champions for the first time in his tenure as Steve Logsdon's successor.
Maybe the latest state rankings where Bradley is ranked third and Cleveland fourth are more on the money than some people thought.
The final score was 39-27.
"That was a great match in a great atmosphere," Smith said shortly after the match had ended at Cleveland Middle School.
"We felt like it would come down to bonus points and who won the close matches. Cleveland had more bonus points, but we won more matches and we were able to pull out the close ones. Corey Gatlin and Ed Elkins really stepped up big at 170 and 195, but Knox Fuller's pin at 126 was paramount and clinched the win for us.
"I normally don't say a lot about his as he always does his job, but he's been through a lot and he deserves as much credit as anyone. But it was a total team effort," he said.
"We had no room for error, but this is a really big win for this team as our kids need to believe they can beat Cleveland. Winning the dual meet with them isn't the goal and this won't mean much if we lose to them in the Region or State Duals.
"We have to keep getting better, but this just let's me know that our system is working. We just need to move on and keep working," Smith added after Bradley had improved to 13-2 with the win.
Cleveland coach Jake Yost suffered his first loss to Bradley, but his world wasn't rocked because of it. He knows that Tuesday's match is just the first of what could be one or two more battles with their biggest rival.
"I'm happy with some of our younger guys as they really went out and battled, but Bradley came out and fought hard and they're a good team," Yost said.
"We took it on the chin at 182 and I thought that 195 may have been a swing match, but those late pins at 220 and 285 put us back on track. We got caught in a scramble with a good scrambler at 126, but I know that we can some things better. I'm sure we'll get another chance with those guys," he stated.
Ezra Taylor's second-period pin gave Cleveland a quick 6-0 lead before Caleb Adkins posted a 3-0 decision at 152 for Bradley's first points.
Aaron Oliver's major decision at 160 extended the Blue Raider advantage to 10-3 before Gatlin's 6-1 decision at 170, Brett Brown's first-minute pin at 182 and Elkins 5-2 decision at 195 gave Bradley its first lead at 15-9 after Cleveland lost a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct following that last match.
John Gaither and Koran Kennedy both had pins for Cleveland at 220 and 285, but the Cleveland lead was just 21-15 at that point as the match headed toward the strength of Bradley's lineup.
The Bears didn't disappoint as T.J. Hicks posted a hard-fought 2-1 decision at 106 before Toribio Navarro's 25-second pin at 113 gave Bradley the lead for the last time at 24-21.
Ryan McElhaney's forfeit at 120 made it 30-21 before Fuller's pin at 126 sealed the win for the never-say-die Bears.
Chris Debien had a pin for Cleveland's final points at 132 while Bradley's Stephen Scott finished the match on a positive note with a 6-3 decision at 138.
Bradley will be at home on Thursday to face region foe Walker Valley while Cleveland returns to action on Friday at the Brentwood tournament.
WALKER VALLEY POSTED a 47-27 win over Ooltewah on Tuesday night with Zane Smith, Edward Johnson, Austin Gregory, Mikel Gregory and Chandler Davis all getting pins for the victorious Mustangs.
Neftali Rodriguez and Jordan Chafi both had pins for the Owls.
BRADLEY 39, CLEVELAND 27
(Match began at 145 Pounds)
106 -- T.J. Hicks (Brad) dec. Cody Mathews, 2-1;
113 -- Toribio Navarro (Brad) pinned Jayce Mullin, :25;
120 -- Ryan McElhaney (Brad) won by forfeit;
126 -- Knox Fuller (Brad) pinned Tristan Blansit, 2:22;
132 -- Chris Debien (Clev) pinned Hunter Parker, 2:27;
138 -- Stephen Scott (Brad) dec. Joseph Bowers, 6-3;
145 -- Ezra Taylor (Clev) pinned Donnie Beyer, 3:01;
152 -- Caleb Adkins (Brad) dec. Jack Hicks, 3-0;
160 -- Aaron Oliver (Clev) major dec. Clay Bandy, 10-2;
170 -- Corey Gatlin (Brad) dec. Jonathan Martin, 6-1;
182 -- Brett Brown (Brad) pinned Riley Stevison, :49;
195 -- Ed Elkins (Brad) dec. Seth Garcia, 5-2;
220 -- John Gaither (Clev) pinned Tripp Storrs, 1:28;
285 -- Koran Kennedy (Clev) pinned D.J. Adams, 2:20.
WALKER VALLEY 47, OOLTEWAH 27
(Match began at 126 Pounds)
106 -- Chandler Davis (WV) pinned Gavin Hawington, 1:36;
113 -- Gitapun Jur (WV) won by forfeit;
120 -- Neftali Rodriguez (O) pinned Tyler Wampler, 1:10;
126 -- Zane Smith (WV) pinned Conor Terry, 2:58;
132 -- Edward Johnson (WV) pinned Geddes Sherrell, 2:49;
138 -- Joseph Munoz (WV) won by technical fall over Prescott Adams, 3:09;
145 -- Austin Gregory (WV) pinned Jordan Massingill, 5:59;
152 -- Mikel Gregory (WV) pinned Joshua Brooks, 3:00;
160 -- Jordan Chafi (O) pinned Justin Rowland, 1:26;
170 -- Tyler Reid (O) won by forfeit;
182 -- Blake Wright (O) dec. Matt Pankey, 3-2;
195 -- Victor Bednarski (O) won by forfeit;
220 -- Ric Kennett (WV) dec. Jacob Keltch, 11-4;
285 -- C.J. Schwark (WV) dec. Ashton Watson, 9-5.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)