Deep impact

Bradley, Cleveland dominate new region

Maryville’s Logan Ridenour, left, takes the ready position with Cleveland’s Chip Norwood in the 189-pound championship match at the Region 3 wrestling tournament last Saturday at Alcoa High School.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

Maryville’s Logan Ridenour, left, takes the ready position with Cleveland’s Chip Norwood in the 189-pound championship match at the Region 3 wrestling tournament last Saturday at Alcoa High School.

The meteor that hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago is the first thing that comes to mind.

Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley hit the Region 3 wrestling tournament last weekend at Alcoa High School with genuinely terrific force. Of 14 championship bouts contested Saturday, seven would pit a Cleveland wrestler against a Bradley Central rival for the title. The Bears would place a wrestler in 12 championship matches all told, the Blue Raiders nine.

Bradley Central would claim seven region crowns, Cleveland five, with only victories by Greenback’s Jeremy Miller (145 pounds) and Tyler Dailey (285) breaking up the Bradley County juggernaut.

It’s not surprising, Alcoa coach Brian Gossett said. Neither is the arrival of the Bears, Blue Raiders and Mustangs to be feared.

“I think it kind of played out like I thought it would,” Gossett said. “I sort of looked at it as an opportunity. We’re trying to build a program at Alcoa, and it’s an opportunity to go against two of the best teams in the state.”

Only Maryville’s Fletcher Dukes (160) and Logan Ridenour (189) would reach the finals locally as 11 area wrestlers punched their ticket for this weekend’s state meet at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin.

Of 56 wrestlers contesting Saturday’s championship and consolation matches combined, 13 of them were Bradley Central Bears, 12 of them Cleveland Blue Raiders, with seven Walker Valley Mustangs thrown in for good measure.

Reclassification has come for Blount County’s four wrestling high schools, and the only way to meet the change is head on, Dukes said.

“I think it’s great that those teams are in the region,” he said. “I think it’s going to give us the chance to prove we have a high-quality program at Maryville.”

Ridenour’s brother, Blake, last season became the first state wrestling champion in school history and the first for Blount County in more than 40 years.

“For the most part, we look at it as an opportunity and a challenge,” Maryville coach Mark Humphrey said. “The only bad thing about it is we’ll have to travel more.”

The Rebels, who reached state duals as a team earlier this month - with Bradley Central defeating Cleveland for the Class AAA crown - may actually be stronger than a season ago, Humphrey said. It may take a while to close the gap to the Bears, Blue Raiders and Mustangs in the new region, but then a region championship isn’t the primary goal. Having the three state heavyweights within the region means state qualifiers won’t have to face them again until at least the state meet semifinal round.

“We’ve got a little better team than what we had last year,” Humphrey said. “We don’t have someone we know for sure is going to be a state championship, but this has been a good year.”

The Rebels’ Nick Ogle (130), Corey Keen (152), Jaron Brock (171) and Shawn Morgan (285) each grappled their way to third-place region finishes in qualifying for state. Maryville’s Tyler Wilson was fourth at 215 pounds to reach Franklin.

Heritage’s Devon Teaster finished fourth at 119 pounds to advance, with Mountaineer teammates Nathaniel Molina, fourth at 135, and Keagan Matlock, fourth at 152, joining him.

Jose Ramirez was fourth at 140 to claim a lone state berth for Alcoa.

“Jose’s kind of a trailblazer,” Gossett said. “We’re going to take some kids with us. There sort of the bedrock for building our program. I hope Jose’s the first in a line to getting this thing going.”

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