published Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Houston Clements helps Baylor beat old school McCallie

Baylor's Houston Clements controls Garrett Alexander of Soddy-Daisy in the 152-pound match of their meet Tuesday evening at Baylor. Soddy-Daisy got the team win.
Baylor's Houston Clements controls Garrett Alexander of Soddy-Daisy in the 152-pound match of their meet Tuesday evening at Baylor. Soddy-Daisy got the team win.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The thundering noise reverberated through the gym, the Baylor chorus of "We've got Houston" answered by McCallie faithful with "You can have him."

The one-time McCallie athlete who transferred to Baylor never heard a peep, so intent was he on finishing the task at hand. That task was beating childhood pal Alex Kent and securing the Red Raiders' 42-21 wrestling victory before more than 2,000 fans.

"He's a longtime friend and he came out fighting," said Clements, whose Friday return was his first as a competitor against his former school. "Everyone at McCallie has been very nice and I have all the respect in the world for McCallie, but you do what you feel you have to and Baylor was the right fit for me."

Down 33-21, McCallie needed consecutive pins in the night's final two matches to secure a tie. Wrestling at 152 pounds -- although he's on his way to the 138-pound weight class -- Clements pinned Kent in 4:15.

It's a surprise to many that Clements is back in the practice room, much less competing after he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon on Sept. 9 in the Red Raiders' football game at Montgomery Bell Academy.

"It was fun tonight and I am seriously thankful for the opportunity after being out," he said. "Ever since I got hurt I have prayed for God to send me on the right path. If it was in his plan for me to wrestle, then that was great. If not, I would have been fine with that, too."

As is often the situation with Baylor-McCallie meets, there were some cliff-hanging moments that included 106-pound Michael Murphy's takedown for a win with two seconds left (giving Baylor a 15-9 edge), the Red Raiders' 132-pound Brandon Brunner getting a defensive pin and McCallie's Adam Connell (120) pulling out an overtime win.

"The guys were fighting. Top to bottom they fought hard, regardless of the outcome," Red Raiders coach Ben Nelson said. "At 132, we can wrestle better, but it was huge as far as sealing the win."

A defending state champion, Brunner has had some injury issues and just wrestled his first tournament last week.

His win and that from Murphy, the son of former Hixson and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout Pat Murphy, might have been considered toss-up matches. Baylor won both.

"In order to beat them you have to win all the toss-ups and we didn't," McCallie coach Mike Newman said.

In addition to Clements, Baylor got pins from Zack Watson (126), Bryson Popp (145) and Matt Bodine (195) plus a forfeit win for Matthew Cate, who bumped to 170. McCallie's lone pin came from Alex Ward (138).

Both schools advance to next week's state duals. Baylor will be in the same half of the bracket as top-ranked Christian Brothers, and McCallie will be paired with third-ranked Father Ryan.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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