published Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Baylor on top at McCallie Invitational

Bryson Popp of Baylor (right) wrestles Garrett Alexander of Soddy Daisy during the championship rounds of the McCallie Invitational high school wrestling tournament on Saturday at McCallie High School in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Bryson Popp of Baylor (right) wrestles Garrett Alexander of Soddy Daisy during the championship rounds of the McCallie Invitational high school wrestling tournament on Saturday at McCallie High School in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Photo by Maura Friedman.

Names of Baylor wrestlers could be found in almost half of the 14 championship bouts Saturday in the McCallie Invitational high school wrestling tournament. And as far as team results went, it mattered little that only two Red Raiders were individual winners.

Baylor ended up with 261.5 points in the two-day competition, outdistancing second-place Cleveland's 196.

Baylor coach Ben Nelson said their were many good performances in the lighter, middle and upper weight classes. He was particularly pleased with the efforts of 285-pounder Will Thomas, who ended up a runner-up, and 195-pounder Emory Norred, who wrestled for third place.

The Red Raiders led then-second-place Pope, from Marietta, Ga., 238.5-168 going into the finals. Jack Reynolds' 106-pound title came on a 7-3 decision. Bryson Popp won a major decision 11-1 at 160.

"Going into the finals we had a pretty comfortable lead," Baylor coach Ben Nelson said. "Overall we were really pretty spread out throughout the lineup. It was a whole team effort that put us in position to win. It was a great tournament with lots of good competition. It was good to see our guys wrestle well from top to bottom."

Soddy-Daisy ended up third with 175 points, one point ahead of Pope. McCallie rounded out the top five in the 20-team field with 162 points.

Also, it turned out that Palo Alto, Calif., where the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's wrestling team defeated No. 15-ranked Stanford on Friday, wasn't the only place UTC's program was well-represented this weekend. Two Mocs signees won individual championships at McCallie on Saturday, as did the 6-1 decision winner at 126 pounds -- Cleveland junior Chris DeBien, who has committed to UTC.

Two future Mocs faced each other at 132 pounds with Cleveland's Austin Stevison edging Pope's Tyler Haskin 7-4. The bout was 3-3 with time winding down, then Stevison sandwiched a reversal and a takedown around an escape by Haskin.

"I had plenty of time on the clock," Stevison said. "I just kept listening to my coaches. I knew I had to get a reversal or escape, and hopefully I'd be able to pull it off."

Stevison also decisioned Haskin in double overtime in last Saturday's Cleveland duals. The two could be in for more battles in the practice room at the next level, although Stevison said he doesn't know what weight class he could be projected for in college.

Parkview's Kamaal Abdush-Shaku, who Stevison said he met on one of his visits to UTC, piled up 11 points in the third period and won a 16-7 major decision at 145.

The 152-pound bout, with Soddy-Daisy's Gage Richmond rallying to decision Baylor's Blake Sutherland 6-4 in overtime, was voted best match by the coaches. Richmond scored a tying reversal shortly before the third-period whistle, then won with a quick takedown in OT.

"I just kept wrestling and trying my hardest," Richmond said. "You never stop wrestling, no matter what. Coming that close to losing and making a big turnaround and being able to win it in overtime was great."

Roman Boylen, from Alexander High in Douglasville, Ga., was chosen the tournament's most outstanding wrestler. He defeated Baylor's Tate Robinson 4-1 in the 138-pound final.

The only other local individual champion was Cleveland's Koran Kennedy, a 4-0 decision winner at 220.

Cleveland's Ethan West, the 195-pound runner-up, and Ringgold's Jesse Wade, the third-place finisher at 220, tied for the most pins in the least amount of time with four each in 6:38.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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