Saturday eventually brought some gain for the Raiders, but the tough Tigers from Atlanta prevailed over a field of 19 quality wrestling teams in the McCallie Invitational.
The Raiders ended 2012 with a second place finish at the Invitational with 218.5. Archer took first with 254. Soddy-Daisy was third with 179.5, Union County, Ky., finished fourth with 151.5 and Carrollton High School (Ga.), rounded out the top five teams with 145.5 points.
"They have a solid, solid lineup. They are really, really good," said Cleveland coach Jake Yost of the winning team. "I wish we had everybody there so we could have given them a little bit better challenge. But, that being said they are a really, really good team. I don't know if we could have beat them even with all our guys. They are solid at every weight class."
Chris DeBein (113), Austin Stevison (113), Ethan West (182) and Koran Kennedy (285) all reached the finals with DeBein, Stevison and West earning the top spot on the podium.
"Three out of four is not bad," Yost said of his finalists. "Our heavyweight weighs 215 pounds and that kid he wrestled from Archer weighed at least 260. But he (Koran Kennedy) goes out there and puts forth a ton of effort. We are proud of him. He did a good job and he's just a sophomore.”
"There was really tough competition. At 120 pounds there were four state champions and two runners-up. That is some stiff competition."
Yost was pleased for the most part with the toughness displayed by the Raiders over the two-day battle. Cleveland placed nine wrestlers and came close to maximizing points by coming through with time running out.
"We had nine place finishers. We won eight of the last nine matches that we wrestled. We won a bunch of matches in the third period and in the last minute of the match. I thought we did a good job of making sure we wrestled the whole six minutes which is something we preach all the time," said Yost. "They did a really good job of it today. We are real proud about that."
His vote for outstanding wrestler went to Stevison who bested his opponent in the closing seconds in his semifinal and championship matches.
"That kid is the epitome of wrestling heart for six minutes. He was losing 6-2 in the semifinal with about a minute left. He stood up, tossed the kid on his head and pinned him. Our kid kept at it, kept at it and kept at it. That is how it is," lauded the Cleveland coach.
"The same thing happened in the finals. He's losing with 12 seconds left. Most people would throw in the towel. Not him. He goes hard the entire six minutes. Whatever it takes to win that's what he does."
The Blue Raiders will be on the road after Christmas wrestling in the Knockout Christmas Classic in Kissimee, Fla.
(Match started at 106)
106 — Michael Murphy (Baylor) dec. Vinny Artigues (Archer), 4-1; 113 — Chris DeBein (Cleveland) dec. Caleb Mariakis (Lafayette), 6-2; 120 — Austin Stevison (Cleveland) dec. Jackson Stevens (Soddy-Daisy), 5-3; 126 — Brock Ervin (Union County) dec. Jake Adcock (Carrollton) 12-8 OT; 132 — Chris Diaz (Archer) Brandon Brunner (Baylor), 4-2; 138 — Jayce Carr (Union County) dec. Daniel Bullard (Archer), 3-2; 145 — Thomas Bullard (Archer) pinned Logan Richmond (Soddy-Daisy), 3:18; 152 — Turbo Smith (Soddy-Daisy) dec. Turner Martin (Carrollton), 9-4; 160 — Taylor Lujan (Carrollton) major dec. Bryson Popp (Baylor), 17-4; 170 — Deandre Sims (Alexander) dec. Ellison Sanders (Hillcrest), 8-6; 182 — Ethan West (Cleveland) dec. Blaike Henry (Soddy-Daisy), 6-4; 195 — Ernest Alexander (Archer) dec. Harrison Schmid (Parkview), 8-3; 220 — Casey Cook (McCallie) major dec. Mark Randolph (Brentwood), 16-2; 285 — M.J. Couzan (Archer) dec. Koran Kennedy (Cleveland), 1-0.
1. Archer High School 254.0; 2. Cleveland High School 218.5; 3. Soddy Daisy High School 179.5; 4. Union County High School 151.5; 5. Carrollton High School 145.5; 6. Baylor School 139.5; 7. McCallie School 138.0; 8. Alexander High School 117.0; 9. Hillcrest High School 109.5; 10. LaFayette High School 96.5; 11. Brentwood High School 71.0; 12. Parkview High School 69.5; 13. Sonoraville HS 49.0; 14. Heritage High School 46.0; 15. Northwest Whitfield High School 39.0; 16. Hillgrove High School 29.5; 17. Ringgold High School 29.0; 18. Thomas A. Edison 21.0; 19. Knox Webb School 11.0.