“That was fun. If you’re not a wrestling fan, a dual meet like this will make you one,” proclaimed a jubilant Smith after his Bears pulled out an exciting 33-31 victory over the powerful Blue Tornado grapplers.
“When we put them (McCallie) back on our schedule, this is what we had in mind — wrestling tough matches in a big meet in front of cheering crowds,” the third-year head Bradley mentor explained. “Hopefully down the road when we are faced with a similar situation, our guys will remember tonight and be better prepared to face it.”
Not only did the seventh-ranked Bears knock off No. 6 McCallie Thursday evening at Jim Smiddy Arena, they also tied a national record held by many with an 84-0 thumping of McMinn County to improve to 7-1 on the season, including a runner-up finish at the Archer Duals, falling to the host Georgia school in the title meet.
Bradley will trek back to The Peach State today for a two-day individual event at the Wolverine Classic in Woodstock, Ga.
With a trio of reigning state champions and a total of nine wrestlers listed in this week’s weight class polls, the more than 800 fans who braved the rainy conditions knew they were going to see some top-flight action Thursday evening, but some unexpected matmen stole the spotlight in a dual meet that saw both teams win seven matches.
Although seven of the nine ranked wrestlers won their matches, the two who didn’t were current state champs.
Bradley junior Toribio Navarro, the 106-pound title holder and currently top-ranked 113-pounder, came out on the short end of a hard fought 4-3 battle with second-ranked Addison Connell, but senior Zach McFarland, who went 17-20 last season, scored five final period points to upset state champion Nathan Hoodenpyle 8-3 in the 195-pound match that sealed the victory for the Bears.
Although not known as a team strength, Bradley won five of the six highest weight divisions, including pins from Spencer Dailey (160), Nathan Adams (170), Brett Brown (182), plus a 1-0 victory by heavyweight Jerry “JJ” Johnson to go along with McFarland’s heroics.
“Our upper weights really came through for us tonight,” praised Coach Smith. “Last year we were losing four of the top five matches.”
“Spencer (Dailey) was on his back and got out of it and came back to pin his guy. Nathan (Adams) got the match started with a pin. Brett (Brown) did a great job and JJ (Johnson) made a second period escape stand up for a win.”
“Zach (McFarland) really came up big against a tough state champion. After falling behind early, he got an escape and takedown in the first period and then after the guy tied it up in the third (period), he not only got another takedown but back points as well.”
The Bears also got key points when freshman Ryan McElhaney put his 106-pound opponent’s shoulders to the mat, plus Taylor Kazy earned a 4-3 decision with a late takedown in the 132-pound match. Both McElhaney and Kazy received votes in this week’s poll.
In the half dozen contested matches against McMinn County, Bradley got pin falls from Hunter Parker, Chris Price, McElhaney, Kazy, Dailey and McFarland.
BEARS 33, BLUE TORNADO 31
Match started at 170
106 — Ryan McElhaney (BC) pinned Stanton Davis, 1:19; 113 — Addison Connell (M) dec. Toribio Navarro, 4-3; 120 — Ethan Dendy (M) dec. Knox Fuller, 6-3; 126 — James Westbrook (M) dec. Hunter Parker, 4-1; 132 — Taylor Kazy (BC) dec. Brock Herring, 4-3; 138 — Sam Harrelson (M) pinned Steven Scott, 4:35; 145 — Adam Connell (M) pinned Chris Price, 1:47; 152 — Griffin Davis (M) major dec. Caleb Adkins, 12-2; 160 — Spencer Daily (BC) pinned Walker Daughtry, 1:50; 170 — Nathan Adams (BC) pinned Ariel Bong, 3:03; 182 — Brett Brown (BC) pinned Jeff Durden, 1:03; 195 — Zach McFarland (BC) dec. Nathan Hoodenpyle, 5-3; 220 — Jay Roberts (M) pinned Brandon Scoggins, :48; 285 — Jerry Johnson (BC) dec. William Bordman, 1-0.
BEARS 84, CHEROKEES 0
Match started at 160
106 — Ryan McElhaney (BC) pinned Garrett Hall, :44; 113 — Toribio Navarro won by forfeit; 120 — Knox Fuller won by forfeit; 126 — Hunter Parker (BC) pinned Shawn Olinyk, 1:01; 132 — Taylor Kazy (BC) pinned Dakota Boggess, 1:38; 138 — Steven Scott won by forfeit; 145 — Chris Price (BC) pinned Ryan Stoika, 5:15; 152 — Caleb Adkins won by forfeit; 160 — Spencer Daily (BC) pinned Carlos Galo, 3:10; 170 — Nathan Adams (BC) won by forfeit; 182 — Brett Brown (BC) won by forfeit; 195 — Zach McFarland (BC) dec. Clinton Varnadore, 2:13; 220 — Brandon Scoggins (BC) won by forfeit; 285 — Jerry Johnson (BC) won by forfeit.