FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The fat lady had already warmed up and even sung a few verses, but headed home long before Friday’s action was complete here at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park in the annual TSSAA Class AAA State Wrestling tournament.
That’s about the way things have gone in this division as the Bradley Bears have unofficially clinched another state title with still a day left in the competition.
If the truth were known, coach Ben Smith could have put his Bears on the bus and headed back to Cleveland Friday night and still won as they piled up 202.5 points and advanced six to Saturday’s championship finals.
Nobody else has a chance of catching them as Beech is a distant second with 108 points and three finalists.
Tennessee High is currently third with 103 points and one in the finals while three-time defending champ Cleveland is fourth with 95 points and one finalist. Heritage is fifth with 88 points.
Soddy Daisy is seventh with 84.5 while Walker Valley is 12th and Ooltewah 20th with 67 and 48 points, respectively. East Hamilton is 33rd with 31 while Rhea County is 50th with 11 points.
Bradley coach Ben Smith is a superstitious fellow and does his best to not show emotion, no matter what the situation. But on a weekend when his team has exceeded even his own expectations, the emotional fellow had a tough time containing his joy following Friday night’s championship semifinals.
“We have six in the finals and three others alive in the consolations, but who’s in second place?” he asked following a first-period loss by D.J. Adams at 285 in Bradley’s final match of the day.
“It’s been a positive day for the Bears, but I hurt for my heavyweight. We had a great day and I think we won 90 percent of our matches. That’s what we needed to do to get to where we are right now.
“I knew we were capable from the beginning, but you always have to expect a few upsets along the way. Joshua LaCoe beat a defending state champ at 126, so that was a huge win. That’s one I wasn’t sure we’d win, but when he opens up, he’s hard to stop.
“It really feels good to be in the position we’re in, but it feels even better because we had some kids who overachieved this weekend and I’m really proud of that,” Smith concluded on a positive note.
Bradley’s six finalists include unbeaten T.J. Hicks at 113, who was the champ at 106 a year ago. Ryan McElhaney is set at 120, LaCoe at 126, Knox Fuller is looking for this third-straight state title – this year at 138 – while Donnie Beyer is the man at 152 and Brett Brown a favorite at 195.
Colton Landers is Cleveland’s finalist at 132 while Landon Wheaton will be battling at 106 for Soddy Daisy. Joseph Munoz is Walker Valley’s hope at 132 while Ooltewah’s Tyler Reid is hoping for a title at 195.
While the consolation finals will be held on Saturday morning for third and fifth places, the championship finals are set to begin around 5 p.m. (CST).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Soddy Daisy's Tucker Russo (top), a number one seed, has battled back through the consolation bracket after being knocked out of the championships on a controversial and unpopular decision Thursday evening in the Class AAA 160-weight division. Above, he defeats Memphis East's Cedric Lynn by a fall at 2:12.
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood