Raiders down Bears to earn spot in state
by By JOE CANNON Assistant Sports Editor
Jan 25, 2013 | 1261 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEVELAND HIGH’S top-ranked Aaron Lopez, back, tries to get untangled from fifth-ranked Robbie Clark of Bradley Central during their 160-pound match during the Region 3 Duals Thursday evening at the Raider Dome. Lopez went on to pin Clark as the Blue Raiders claimed a 43-26 victory to return to the TSSAA State Duals next weekend.
CLEVELAND HIGH’S top-ranked Aaron Lopez, back, tries to get untangled from fifth-ranked Robbie Clark of Bradley Central during their 160-pound match during the Region 3 Duals Thursday evening at the Raider Dome. Lopez went on to pin Clark as the Blue Raiders claimed a 43-26 victory to return to the TSSAA State Duals next weekend.
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After meeting in the state championship finals for several years for the last two Januarys Cleveland High and Bradley Central’s wrestling programs have had to battle one another in the Region 3 semifinals with a region berth on the line.

For the second straight year the second-ranked Blue Raiders came out on top Thursday evening at the Raider Dome, punching their ticket for a return to Franklin with a 43-36 victory over a shorthanded, fifth-ranked Bears, who were minus five starters.

“We got a good effort to get where we wanted to be,” declared first-year Cleveland head coach Jake Yost. “For the most part, our guys did what we expected them to do and we got what we were looking for (a state duals berth).”

Now 22-2 on the season, the Blue Raiders not only picked up a shot at a state championship but earned the top Region 3 plaque as well when top-ranked Soddy-Daisy chose not to wrestle a title match after a narrow escape of an upset bid by eighth-ranked Walker Valley in its semifinal pairing. The defending state champion Trojans pulled out pins in the final two matches to rally from a three-point deficit for a 33-24 win.

Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy will travel to Franklin for the TSSAA State Duals beginning next Friday and are the favorites heading into the tournament, which expects to have a repeat of last year’s Raider-Trojan finals.

With Thursday night’s crosstown rivalry beginning at 126 pounds, the battle opened with a pair of state-ranked wrestlers squaring off.

Top-ranked Austin Oliver scored the match’s only points in the opening period with a takedown of No. 8 Dakota Ream and then was able to push his advantage to 4-0 in the second frame with a reversal.

Ream bounced back quickly in the third period with an escape and a takedown to cut the difference to a single point, but Oliver was able to break free and then took down the Briar Clift University (Iowa) signee for a 7-3 decision to put the Raiders on the scoreboard first.

The hosts sent another top-ranked grappler to the mat against one of the Bear fill-ins for the second battle and 132-pounder Hayden Hamilton came away with a 63-second pin.

Cleveland’s Joel Simpkins needed just 49 ticks to stick his 138-pound opponent before Bradley got its first win at 145 when Steven Scott was able to put his opponent’s shoulders to the mat in 2:34.

The Raiders then secured the victory with four straight wins and a Bear forfeit.

Fifth-ranked Josh Hamilton needed just 1:20 for a pin at 152, Sean Vonpotts stuck his 170-pound opponent just before the first buzzer and top-ranked Ethan West got the referee to slap the mat 84 seconds into the 182-pound contest.

At 160, top-ranked Aaron Lopez picked up a major decision with a 9-1 victory over Bradley’s Robbie Clark, ranked fifth in the latest Tennessee Wrestling Federation poll.

After Cleveland reached the magic number (43), coach Yost forfeited out five of the final six matches in anticipation of facing Soddy or Walker Valley in a region final.

The lone contested match in the final half dozen saw second-ranked Toribio Navarro able to build up a 13-4 lead before pinning No. 6 Tristian Blansit at the 3:46 mark of the 106-pound battle.

“I put our 160-pounder (Clark) out against a defending state champ (Lopez) to give him some work and they returned the favor at 106,” explained second-year Bradley head coach Ben Smith, whose team was missing five starters due to a skin infection.

“You hate to come into a region match shorthanded but we got to give some of our younger wrestlers some good experience,” he added. “We saw some promise from some of the younger ones, and some fight out of the others.”



BLUE RAIDERS 43, BEARS 36

126 — Austin Oliver (C) dec. Dakota Ream, 7-3; 132 — Haden Hamilton (C) pinned Hunter Parker, 1:03; 138 — Joel Simpkins (C) pinned Dennis Beyer, :49. 145 — Steven Scott (BC) pinned Eli Isenhower, 2:34; 152 — Josh Hamilton (C) pinned Jacob Staton, 1:20. 160 — Aaron Lopez (C) major dec. Robbie Clark, 9-1; 170 — Sean Vonpotts (C) pinned James Goins, 1:59; 182 — Ethan West (C) pinned Nathan Adams, 1:24; 195 — Oleg Stukanov (C) won by forfeit; 220 — Zach McFarland (BC) won by forfeit; 285 — Jerry Johnson (BC) won by forfeit; 106 — Toribio Navarro (BC) pinned Tristian Blansit, 3:46; 113 — Dyer Rose (BC) won by forfeit; 120 — Dakota Bromley (BC) won by forfeit.