HIXSON — Flexing the muscle of its program, Bradley Central sent its junior varsity wrestling team to compete in the Vandergriff Duals on Saturday, and they claimed the crown with five victories …
HIXSON — Flexing the muscle of its program, Bradley Central sent its junior varsity wrestling team to compete in the Vandergriff Duals on Saturday, and they claimed the crown with five victories over varsity squads.
"Proud of this group of Bears right here!" head coach Ben Smith posted on Facebook Saturday. "While the majority of the Varsity Bears practiced and finished up some challenge matches this morning, this scrappy group of Bears gave up forfeits at two weights most of the day, several guys wrestled up a weight, and had 10 weights covered by either freshmen or back-up/travel squad Bears went 5-0 on the day and won the Vandergriff Duals hosted by our black-and-gold brothers from Hixson High School. Great event, great hospitality, tons of varsity and exhibition matches, and a ton of fun."
The JV Bears defeated Chattooga (Ga.) 45-30, Chattanooga Christian 66-18 and Brainerd 66-12 in pool play, before winning a tiebreaker over host Hixson in the semis and downing Signal Mountain 42-34 in the championship meet.
"The semifinal match was 42-42 with Hixson, but we were the winner by NFHS rule tiebreaker criteria H — cumulative total of first points scored. Wow, it was a great match," Smith proclaimed. "The finals against Signal Mountain was a great match as well.
"Being able to give our back-ups and guys still fighting to get in the varsity line-up a chance to compete on the varsity level is something that we started trying to do at Bradley five or so years ago," the coach explained.
"It gives us an opportunity to use our depth and see how our guys backing up the starters and/or still fighting for a starting spot, will compete outside of the practice room and challenge matches. That is invaluable for both athletes and coaches.
"Being able to compete on a varsity level with our back-ups and a few potential starters, much less win a tournament, is big for our program and speaks well for our season and future," Coach Smith declared.
"At this point in the season, it's all about mat time and competition situations. The more opportunities our wrestlers have to compete, whether varsity, JV, or freshmen, the more opportunities they have to prepare themselves for their post-season goals as a team member and individual.
"Today was fun. It's always fun to compete, much less with this young group of Bears who were very eager to get their chance to compete and show themselves worthy of a Bear Paw on the back of their singlets," he added.
"We saw a lot of heart, a lot of fight, and a lot of areas to improve upon competitively and character-wise. We saw a few of our young Bears grow up a little today and that's very exciting for the depth of our team this season specifically as well as for the seasons to come. It's been a good week for the program!"
The Bradley varsity opened their season last week, defeating a trio of reigning Alabama state champs to win the Hewitt-Trussville Duals in Birmingham.
The Bears will travel to McMinn County for a tri-meet Thursday before going to participate in the tough Mountain View Duals in the Atlanta area Saturday.
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