FRANKLIN, Tenn. — For the first time in the history of TSSAA Division II wrestling, Christian Brothers High School nailed down both of Tennessee's state championships.
Following its state duals crown two weeks earlier, the Memphis school was within a whisker of nailing down the traditional title before Saturday evening's championship finals. Ahead by 20-plus points heading into the tournament's final 14 bouts, the Purple Wave put their lead out of reach by winning two of three, starting with 113-pound Elijah Oliver's defeat of McCallie's James Westbrooks.
Then at 126 pounds, the Wave's Nick Gray decisioned Father Ryan's Hal Fisher.
"It was our time," said Christian Brothers coach Chris Lewis, whose team was favored a year ago but came up short in the traditional after winning the duals. This year the Wave got both.
"Last year they were favored and didn't quite get there, but I think they learned a lot from it. They were so focused on what they were about," McCallie coach Mike Newman said.
CBHS finished with 272 points and three champions. While Nashville's Father Ryan was second with 231 points, the Purple Irish came up short in the finals, winning just one of six matchups.
Chattanooga contenders McCallie and Baylor matched Christian Brothers in individual champions with three apiece but came up short in their quest to at least catch Father Ryan. McCallie had 208.5 points and Baylor was fourth with 202.
The finish was sweet, at least to an extent, to McCallie, which lost the regular-season dual to the Red Raiders and then also their state duals match.
"It's always nice to beat your rival, but that's not the focus of our season," Newman said. "We ask the guys to get one percent better every day, and they've at least done that. There might have been a couple of matches that got away from us, but overall this weekend our guys wrestled great."
The champions were Oliver, Gray and Kaleb Baker from Christian Brothers; Michael Murphy, Bryson Popp and Ryan Parker from Baylor; Alex Elsea, Adam Connell and Nathan Hoodenpyle from McCallie; Franklin Garston and Jashon Roberson from Montgomery Bell Academy; Amos Mason from Brentwood Academy; Pierce Oliver from Battle Ground Academy and Mark Marchetti from Father Ryan.
In one of the night's highlight matches, McCallie's Connell, son of legendary coach Gordon Connell, repeated his state duals feat with a win over Baylor's Brandon Brunner. It was named best match.
Best wrestler was CBHS's Baker, a three-time state champ.
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 ...