FRANKLIN — Two teams that have consistently finished runner-up recently at the TSSAA State Wrestling Duals are still alive with hopes of bettering their results.
Father Ryan and Wilson Central are the only two Midstate teams still in the championship portion of the duals, held at the Williamson County Agriculture Center.
Father Ryan will face Baylor in the Division II finals at 7 p.m. Saturday, while Wilson Central will take on Soddy-Daisy in the Class AAA semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday. Bradley County and Science Hill will face off in the other AAA semifinal.
The finals are familiar territory for both teams. Father Ryan, which has won seven state duals titles, has lost in the championship match four years in a row, while Wilson Central has fallen to Cleveland in the last three AAA finals.
“We haven’t won this tournament in six years, and we’ve been in the finals about every year,” said Father Ryan coach Pat Simpson. “We’re trying to reverse that. It’s going to take our best effort. It’ll be a great match like it always is” when Father Ryan and Baylor face off, he added.
Wilson Central coach John Kramer’s team is facing a similar obstacle in the path to the finals.
“We’re going to have to wrestle with a lot of heart,” he said.
Beech just missed punching its ticket to the AAA semis when the Buccaneers fell to Science Hill on a tiebreaker. A decision by heavyweight David Dowell and a pin by 106-pounder Brayden Palmer pulled Beech into a 33-33 tie, but the victory went to Science Hill because they had four pins to Beech’s three.
“You’ve just got to forget it,” said Beech coach Jeff Roberts.
The other five Midstate teams in the AAA tournament — Blackman, Centennial, Independence, Siegel and Stone Memorial — all lost in the first round.
Science Hill beat Blackman 39-33, Centennial fell to Gibbs 44-15, Independence fell to Soddy Daisy 41-34, Seigel lost to Arlington 42-30 and Stone Memorial fell to Tennessee High 43-34.
Wilson Central opened the tournament with a 48-25 victory over Knoxville Halls. The Wildcats scored pins by Cullen Belcher (126), Nicholas King (132), Niko Noga (145), Zach Linton (170) and Isaac Hodge (220).
In the quarterfinals, Wilson Central raced to a 12-0 lead after three matches against Tennessee High. The Vikings rallied to take a 15-12 lead, but Wilson Central won the next four matches, beginning with a pin by Noga at 160 pounds, to take a 34-15 lead.
“Our lightweights stepped up and did a good job for us,” said Kramer. “Zach Linton bumped up to 182 and won a major decision. He did a good job.”
“We were worried for a minute because we had everybody bumped up,” added King. “But about 160 I knew we were OK. We want to get back to the finals.”
To do that, the Wildcats will have to beat Soddy-Daisy in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
“Everybody has to wrestle well,” King said.
In the Division II tournament, Father Ryan opened with a 60-21 victory over Franklin Road Academy. The Irish won first eight matches with seven pins and a forfeit to take 48-0 lead and punch their ticket to a semifinal matchup with McCallie.
Again Ryan took a commanding lead early to secure the 38-33 win. “It’s always advance, that’s the bottom line,” Simpson said.
“We’ve lost in the finals every year I’ve been here,” said Trey Chalifoux, Father Ryan’s senior 120-pounder and a defending state champion. “We have to stay focused. We just need to get it done this year.”
Christian Brothers toppled Montgomery Bell Academy 32-21 in the first round.
Defending A-AA state champ Pigeon Forge sent Page to the consolation bracket with a 58-12 victory in the quarterfinals.
In the first round, Page topped Greenbrier 45-30 in the matchup of the only Midstate teams in the A-AA bracket.