FRANKLIN, Tenn. – There’s still an awful lot of wrestling to go, but the first day of action in the TSSAA’s Traditional State Tournament is in the books for the AAA field.
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Bradley, Cleveland and Wilson Central hold the top three spots and all three have a strong number still alive.
Bradley won 10 of 13 matches in the opening round while claiming victory in seven of 10 in the second round.
The Bears still have three alive in the consolation rounds and hold first place with 72 points.
Two-time defending champion Cleveland is right there in the shadow with 63.5 points and also 10 alive in the medal rounds, including eight in the quarterfinals and two in the consolation rounds.
Wilson Central, an up-and-coming team from Lebanon that has finished as the runner-up to Cleveland for the past three years in the State Duals, is in third with 54.5 points. The Wildcats have nine alive, including six in the championship brackets and three in the consolations.
Knoxville Halls and Soddy Daisy complete the top five teams with 52 and 50 points, respectively.
Walker Valley is currently in 12th with 37 points. The Mustangs have two in the championship running with three still alive in the consolations.
But on a day where action took place on a dozen mats inside spacious Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center, it was more a day of win, survive and move on with a minimal amount of injury.
“It’s a matter of the survival of the fittest,” said Cleveland coach Jake Yost while watching some consolation matches.
“We won eight of nine matches in the second round and even beat some kids we had lost to earlier in the season. Even the matches we lost (in both rounds) we were in the match, but we’re continuing to build on the success we had last weekend.
“I feel like we’re capable of winning all eight in the quarters, but we’ve got to take care of business in the consolation rounds,” he said matter of factly.
Bradley coach Ben Smith knows that his team has barely scratched the surface as Friday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will probably tell the tale for most teams with championship aspirations. But he liked what he saw from his battling Bears on the first day.
“We have seven in the quarters and that’s about what I expected. The only one that I might even consider a surprise would be D.J. Adams at 285, but he’s about dangerous enough to beat anybody in the state he said after his junior heavyweight put two pins on the board as Bradley did an outstanding job of getting bonus points.
“Realistically, that’s about where we should be, but I had three get eliminated earlier than I expected and two of them were seniors. But we got a lot of bonus points and that’s probably the difference in the tournament right now,” Smith stated..
“We still have nine alive, but we won some big matches tonight, including Perry Baltz, who beat an unbeaten kid at 182,” said Wilson Central coach John Kramer.
“Anything can happen in a tournament like this, but we’re still chasing Cleveland and they are the team to beat. We have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys, but we’re hoping to catch them one day,” he added.
Soddy Daisy coach Jim Higgins was like a lot of other coaches as he was really disappointed for some of his kids who lost and are finished for the season.
Higgins was talking specifically about Emory Holcomb, his sophomore 138-pounder who hurt a surgically-repaired elbow in his second match, had to default and is finished for the season.
“I’m flustered right now as I hate it for Emory. I have a lot of mixed emotions right now as a couple of my kids didn’t handle the pressure very well. We did really well in some spots while not so good in others,” he expressed.
Walker Valley coach Alan Morris echoed similar feelings.
“We’ve done well in spots, but I just feel bad for those guys who lost. Friday will be a long day, but things have turned out about like how I expected them to,” Morris said with a smile.
Bradley’s seven in the quarterfinals include T.J. Hicks at 106, two-time defending state champ Toribio Navarro at 113, Ryan McElhaney at 120, Knox Fuller at 126, Donnie Beyer at 145, Brett Brown at 182 and Adams at 285.
Cleveland’s eight include Cody Mathews at 106, Tristian Blansit at 120, Colton Landers at 126, Christopher DeBien at 132, Ezra Taylor at 138, Aaron Oliver at 160, John Gaither at 220 and Koran Kennedy at 285.
Soddy Daisy’s four include Chase Payne at 113, Austin Houser at 132, Tucker Russo at 145 and John Williamson at 170 while Walker Valley’s two in the hunt for a state title include Joseph Munoz at 132 and Ric Kennett at 220.
Friday’s action begins at 10 a.m. (CST) with the AAA quarterfinals and A-AA Round of 16. The ever-exciting championship semifinals will be contested in all divisions at 6 p.m. local time.
Brackets, complete team scores and individual team results can be found at www.trackwrestling.com
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)