With a trio of champions from five weight division finalists and a total of 11 place winners, the third-ranked Bears scored 175 team points to earn the runner-up trophy, while second-ranked and 2013 TSSAA state finalist Wilson Central took home first place.
“I'm extremely proud of the way these guys rebounded today (Saturday) from a very tough and emotional week ... two weeks, really,” proclaimed Bradley head coach Ben Smith. “We went back to the drawing board yesterday (Friday) and put some hard work in. They responded well today. There was fight and effort back across the board today and I'm proud of that.”
“Wilson Central is a very tough, solid team with few holes,” he continued. “I'm proud of our effort and fight against them when we met head-to-head.”
Bradley will now turn its attention to the Region 4 Duals on Thursday, where the Bears will have a rematch with No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Cleveland High. A berth in this year’s State Duals will be on the line when the archrivals meet at “The Barn” in Ooltewah. Sixth-ranked Walker Valley will tangle with No. 4 Soddy-Daisy for the other automatic state bid.
“We'll actively rest over the next two days and realign our sights back on Cleveland, Soddy and Walker Valley for the Region 4 Duals this upcoming Thursday at Ooltewah,” Smith commented. “It should be a fun evening for all in attendance.”
Top-ranked Toribio Navarro as well as second-ranked Knox Fuller and Patrick McElhaney brought home the championship trophies over the weekend from Knoxville.
Navarro, a junior who won a TSSAA state title last season, won all four of his 113-pound matches and defeated fourth-ranked Evan Huling of the host Halls team, in what was voted the “Best Match of the Tournament” for the crown.
Fuller continued his strong freshman season with five straight victories, including a win over fourth-ranked Christian Cerrito of Wilson Central in the 120-pound title match.
McElhaney, also a ninth-grader, posted a perfect 4-0 mark to capture the 103-pound top prize.
Hunter Parker (126) and Stephen Scott (138), both ranked fifth in the latest state poll, each earned a spot in their weight class final but fell to state-ranked Wilson Central wrestlers. Parker went 3-1 on the day, while Scott was 4-1.
Bears Brett Brown (182), ranked fifth in the state, Zach McFarland (195), Colter McConnell (152) and Taylor Kazy (132) all earned third-place finishes Saturday. The four all fell to state-ranked wrestlers in their semifinal matches before closing out the tournament with a victory in the consolation finals.
“I felt like Stephen Scott turned the corner today with a hard-fought tournament with few letdowns,” praised Coach Smith. “I'm also very pleased with seniors Taylor Kazy, Colter McConnell, Zach McFarland and sophomore Brett Brown for battling back from tough semi's losses to win strong third place finishes.”
Bradley’s Caleb Adkins also went 3-1 on the day while placing fifth in the 145-pound class, while heavyweight Jerry “JJ” Johnson brought home a sixth place finish.
Rounding out the top five teams in the event after Wilson Central and Bradley were Maryville (103), Halls (100.5) and Hendersonville Beech (99).