published Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Cleveland, Baylor win state wrestling duals titles

Cleveland 285-pounder John Gaither, right, pinned Christian Frans of Wilson County on Saturday.
Cleveland 285-pounder John Gaither, right, pinned Christian Frans of Wilson County on Saturday.
Photo: Lynnae Roberts

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — It's hard to say which was bigger — Cleveland's second straight pounding of Wilson Central to win the Class AAA state wrestling duals title or Baylor coming from behind to secure its first Division II crown since 2011.

For the better part of a year Wilson Central has lived with the humility of a 74-point loss and worked to get back to the championship finals. The Wildcats' motivation was either revenge or redemption or both. They thumped Soddy-Daisy in a semifinal to get their chance. But Cleveland, a finalist in each of the past three years, took the Wildcats to school again.

It was 50-9 when Cleveland forfeited the last match to make the final score 50-15.

"Ethan West did his job and then Koran Kennedy (220) really got us going," Cleveland coach Jake Yost said. "Most people probably didn't think we were capable of winning that match."

Kennedy won 3-2 and the race was on, the Blue Raiders reeling off 11 victories.

"We tend to get on a roll. It's unreal. It's unbelievable how our kids continue to impress me," Yost added.

For Baylor, it was surviving the nip and coming up with the appropriate tuck in avenging a loss to the Purple Irish earlier this year for a 36-25 win.

"We had some huge swings from that last time. It started with [Jon] Schmissrauter and kept rolling," Baylor coach Ben Nelson said. "The boys really wanted this. We had reminders on the wall about how we dropped the ball in that dual meet."

The Red Raiders won eight of the 14 matches and got bonus points from Ryan Parker, Will Thomas, Michael Murphy, Tate Robinson and Bryson Popp. No win might have been bigger than that from heavyweight Thomas, who fought off his back in the first period and came back with a pin.

Pigeon Forge defeated Greeneville 43-25 for the A/AA championship.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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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