published Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Cleveland Blue Raiders rally to win region; Bears qualify 13

Toribio Navarro of Bradley Central, left, grapples with Cleveland wrestler Tristian Blansit Saturday at the Region 4-AAA wrestling tournament finals at Walker Valley High School.
Toribio Navarro of Bradley Central, left, grapples with Cleveland wrestler Tristian Blansit Saturday at the Region 4-AAA wrestling tournament finals at Walker Valley High School.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Legend & team scores

1. Cleveland (C) 196, 2. Bradley Central (BC) 178.5, 3. Walker Valley (WV) 171, 4. Soddy-Daisy (SD) 137.5, 5. Ooltewah (Ool) 44; 6. East Hamilton (EH) 42, 7. Rhea County (RC), 8. McMinn County (McCo) 0.

106 pounds

For first: Drake Haney (WV) dec. Ryan McElhaney (BC), 9-6. For third: Ryan Potter (EH) received bye.

113 pounds

For first: Toribio Navarro (BC) pinned Triston Blansit, 5:53. For third: Mason Blevins (SD) pinned Alex Smith (WV), 4:27.

120 pounds

For first: Knox Fuller (BC) pinned Matt Meeks (EH), 1:15. For third: Jake McClure (SD) dec. Taylor Bishop (C), 6-5.

126 pounds

For first: Chris Debien (C) pinned Hunter Parker (BC), 1:45. For third: Austin Gregory (WV) pinned Nick Akins (EH), 2:42.

132 pounds

For first: Austin Stevison (C) pinned Emory Holcomb (SD), 5:23. For third: Joe Munoz (WV) won by forfeit over Tyler Kazy (BC).

138 pounds

For first: Ezra Taylor (C) dec. Tucker Russo (SD), 4-3. For third: Stephen Scott (BC) pinned Ethan Vandehei (EH), 4:28.

145 pounds

For first: Gage Richmond (SD) pinned Tyrus Hamrick (WV), 1:21. For third:William Haas (C) dec. Caleb Adkins (BC), 9-7.

152 pounds

For first: Aaron Oliver (C) dec. Ryan Hager (WV), 7-1. For third: Austin Williamson (SD) pinned Colter McConnell (BC), 4:00.

160 pounds

For first: Lawrence Cotton (WV) major dec. Garrett Alexander (SD), 11-3. For third: Greg Wilson (BC) dec. Tyler Reid (Ool), 11-10.

170 pounds

For first: Josh Hamilton (C) pinned Tyler Hixson (SD), 1:51. For third: Nathan Adams (BC) dec. Donovan Thomas (Ool), 5-2.

182 pounds

For first: Billy Raulston (WV) dec. Brett Brown (BC), 7-2. For third: Hunter Maynor (SD) dec. Victor Bednarski (Ool), 5-1.

195 pounds

For first: Ethan West (C) major dec. Ric Kennett (WV), 10-1. For third: Christian Dean (SD) dec. Zach McFarland (BC), 3-2.

220 pounds

For first: Koran Kennedy (C) won by forfeit over Daniel Cochran (RC). For third: Kelvin Leon (Ool) dec. Xzayvier Beckingham (WV), 10-8 OT (SV1).

285 pounds

For first: Zach Miller (WV) dec. John Gaither (C), 3-1. For third: Jerry Johnson (BC) dec. Jacob Keltch (Ool), 2-1.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — For the first time in two years, the Cleveland High School wrestling team found itself in a runner-up role entering a tournament's championship finals.

The Blue Raiders responded with seven wins from their nine finalists to overcome fast-track Bradley Central and nail down the Region 4-AAA championship Saturday evening at Walker Valley.

"I thought we had a gutty performance," Cleveland coach Jake Yost said. "We had to chase Bradley, but the kids figured out a way to finish on top."

Racking up points in the consolation rounds, the Bears took a five-point advantage into the finals, but Cleveland got on one of its celebrated rolls.

"They're as good as I thought they'd be when the season started," Bradley coach Ben Smith said. "They're impressive. They're just better than us right now, but that's motivation."

The Blue Raiders totaled 196 points, while Bradley Central finished with 178.5 and Walker Valley had 171.

Two Soddy-Daisy wrestlers, each a likely strong points contributor, failed to make weight, and the Trojans finished a disappointing fourth with 137.5 points.

"It was an unfortunate circumstance," Yost said.

"Steve Logsdon told me long ago if you get guys there on time and on weight and ready to wrestle, you'll win a lot of matches," Smith said. "February is mysterious. Kids clock out, people get hurt or they don't make weight at crucial times. It's part of the sport."

Of course, the major purpose of the tournament was nailing down qualifiers for the state tournament, and Bradley led there with 13. Cleveland and Walker Valley each had 11 and Soddy-Daisy had 10. Ooltewah got five, East Hamilton a school-best four and Rhea County one. The 11 for Walker Valley were an all-time best.

"We qualified 11 of the 13 guys we entered, and the two that didn't make it just didn't have the experience," said Yost, who had to go without his 106-pounder, who was bedridden with a stomach virus.

Bradley qualified each of its entrants.

"They should be proud. I think our region will do well in the state," Yost said.

"You put us in an individual tournament and I think we can go with anybody," Smith said. "If you get out of this region, then it's likely you have some [state] points coming your way. We have a chance now to look for a [state] trophy as a team."

Cleveland's champions were Chris Debien (126), Austin Stevison (132), Ezra Taylor (138), Austin Oliver (152), Josh Hamilton (170), Ethan West (195) and Koran Kennedy. Bradley Central's were Toribio Navarro (113) and Knox Fuller (120), while Walker Valley champs were Drake Haney (106), Lawrence Cotton 9160), Billy Raulston (182) and Zach Miller. (285). Soddy-Daisy's Gage Richmond won at 145.

Debien was named the tournament's best wrestler and the best match plaques went to Haney and Bradley's Ryan McElhaney.

Top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Thursday through Saturday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo in Franklin.

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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