FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but a young Science Hill team easily won its opening match and managed a fourth-place finish at the state dual wrestling meet Saturday.
“This team of Toppers have continued to prove the critics wrong each week, they continue to overachieve keeping focus on their team and being accountable to their teammates and program,” head coach Jimmy Miller told News Channel 11 as the worn-out team headed home after a three-match day.
Dobyns-Bennett, meanwhile, couldn’t hang with eventual state champion Cleveland and bowed out after its first-round, 55-15 loss to the Blue Raiders.
The Toppers had much the easier draw in the slimmed down, eight-team affair. The format left first-round losers with no path to a medal, and that fact had put the Indians in a very tough spot — facing a three-time defending state champion that came in as a favorite to four-peat.
Hayden Bodo gets an early takedown in his 20-7 win against Collierville at 120 pounds. (Courtesy Jeff Price)
Defending individual state champions Tre Morrisette and Jackson Hurst provided nine of the Tribe’s 15 points. Hurst won an 11-9 decision over Robert Laxton at 152 and Morrisette followed by pinning Desmond Prigmore at 160.
D-B’s other points came from Tre’s twin Clint Morrisette, whose quick pin of Edward Christe-Couvillion brought the Indians within 24-15. Cleveland then rolled through the final six matches with four pins and two decisions.
“We had a tough loss to a really good team today,” Indians head coach Wes Idlette said.
“Wrestling the state champions was a great opportunity for our guys to see how we can improve. We saw some really great matches with some kids that we may see in the state (individual) tournament.”
On the other side of the bracket, the Hilltoppers led just 11-10 after splitting the first six matches with Collierville, with each match ending in a decision.
The Toppers looked like they had broken it open after consecutive pins by Liam Medina, Peyton Pridemore and Perry Tate at 160, 170 and 182 gave them a 29-10 advantage.
Riley Strode gets the pin for Science Hill at 113 in the Collierville match. (Courtesy Jeff Price)
A pin by Collierville’s Wyatt Lankford over Devon Medina at 195 and a forfeit at 220 tightened things again, but the Toppers closed with pins by heavyweight Keimel Redford and Stiles Miller and Riley Strode at 106 and 113 to win 47-22.
Science Hill then ran into a buzzsaw against Wilson Central. The Wildcats jumped to a 39-0 lead in the first eight matches. That allowed them to give up walkovers in the final six matches and save some of their wrestlers energy for the final against Cleveland.
“We wrestled a few solid matches but just didn’t have enough to keep it in range against a very good Wilson Central team,” Miller said.
That dropped Science Hill into the match for third place against Summit, which ended up having the best performance of the night against Cleveland in its semifinal, getting within 35-25 before the Blue Raiders sealed it with a pin in the 12th of 14 matches.
“I asked the kids to respond and our young bunch did just that,” Miller said. “We wrestled a solid match against Summit but came up short at the end.”
Senior Braxton Mann (145) kept it close early with a pin that made it 9-6 Summit.
The Spartans then sandwiched two pins around a major decision by another Topper senior, Liam Medina (160) to go up 21-10.
But a Perry Tate pin at 182 and a tight 5-3 decision by Devon Medina at 195 tightened things back up at 21-19.
Braxton Mann wrestles on his way to a 12-5 decision in the Collierville match. (Courtesy Jeff Price)
Summit threatened to run away with it again after pins at 220 and heavyweight made it 33-19, but freshman 106-pounder Stiles Miller got his second pin of the day and the Toppers were far from done at 33-25 with three matches to go.
The Spartans needed a technical fall or better against Riley Strode at 113 to clinch it, and Jarvis Little of Summit pulled out a 20-4 victory that made the score 38-25 and the match out of reach barring some penalty.
Two more decisions made what had been an exciting match closer than it looked in the 45-25 final score.
Science Hill has now made the state dual semifinals five of the past six years. Miller said the focus now turns to the regionals next weekend, which take on extra importance because the state individual tournament will be a one-day show in Chattanooga with only two wrestlers from each region rather than the traditional four.
“I hope we can get back into the room this week and prepare,” Miller said. “It’s going to be a tall task to get a lot of our Toppers through to the state tournament. We’ll go back to work and see how things shake out next weekend.”
D-B’s Idlette said he was looking forward to that tournament “to prove our strength and finish up this season strong.”