After a good performance at the Blackhorse Invitiational, the Tigers ran headlong into the buzzsaw that is the Cleveland Duals. A winter mix hit the Chattanooga area just as the Tiger arrived at McCallie School on Friday night, forcing the cancellation of the scheduled dual between the Blue Tornandoes and the Tigers. Fortunately, McCallie wrestling coach graciously permitted the Tigers to get a workout in between they headed for Cleveland. A few Georgia and Alabama teams has to cancel their trips to Cleveland due to the storm which necessitated the re-shuffling of the pools. Arlington found themselves in pool with state #1 McCallie, #5 Bradley Central, #12 Beech.
The Tigers found themselves without wrestlers at 106, 113 and 220lbs. which makes competing at duals meets slightly more of a challenge as the team effectively starts out 18 points down. First matchup of the day was Bradley Central, a multiple time state championship team. The dual started at 152lbs and the Tigers sent in Dalton Cockman to get the dual underway. Cockman immediately shifted the momentum in the Tigers favor with a pin. Tiger then lost the next two matches and were down 9-6 when Austin Antcliffe took to the mat at 182 and came away with a tech fall. Tigers took the lead 11-9. Jack Lewis added a victory at 195 but the Tigers forfeited at 220. Jon Worley won a very important match at 285 with a pin. The team score was 20-15 as the dual turned to the lightweights. Tigers forfeited 106 and 120lbs and lost by pin at 113 which resulted ina quick 18 point swing in favor of the Bradley squad. With the team score at 33-20, both Caleb Morgan and Luke Kerns dug deep and came up with pins at 126 and 132 which cut the Bears lead to 1 point. Justin Donahue lost a very close match in the last seconds which put the Bears up 36-32. The final match at 145 needed a tech fall or better by Harrison Phillips to give the Tigers the victory but it was not in the cards. Phillips won the match but Tigers lost 36-35. The dual was incredibly close and even more so given the 18 point deficit from the forfeits.
Next up was #1 McCallie and they quickly showed the Tigers and everyone else why they are ranked the best in Tennessee. Jack Lewis was a bright spot with a pin at 195lbs and Dalton Cockman tech falled at 152. Kerns and Donahue also won but the Tigers were dismantled 55-20. Ouch!
Not to be deterred, the Tigers had one more match in their pool vesus Beech Senior. The shorthanded Tigers came out strong and were up 26-24 when Donahue won a major decision, Phillips with a pinfall and Cockman with a tech fall sealed the win for the Tigers 38-32.
The next round saw the Tigers face #4 Baylor which was never going to be easy. A pin by Lewis starting the dual off right but it went downhill from there until Kerns stopped the bleeding with a pin at 132lbs. Phillips won at 145lbs but the Tigers slid from there to a 54-15 loss. Not a fun way to spend a Saturday.
The final match up of the day pitted the Tigers against another fine wrestling school, Father Ryan. The Tigers have a familial connection with the Irish as Coach Simpson's uncle is the head coach at Father Ryan. The dual started out in the Tigers favor with Jack Lewis stepping in at 220lbs and stepping out with a pinfall victory. Jon Worley then followed up with a pin of his own and the Tigers were up 12-0. The lead was shortlived and by the time the 126 match was starting the Tigers were down 18-12. Senior Caleb Morgan came up big with a pin to tie it up. A tough loss at 132 gave the Irish a 21-18 lead. Donahue pinned at 138, Phillips majored at 145, Cockman won by pin at 152 and Antcliffe sealed a historic win against Father Ryan with a pin. Tigers were victorious 40-39. There will be plenty to talk about in the Simpson family during Christmas dinner!
A 2-3 record is nothing to brag about but given the Tigers line-up holes the day was not all bad. Unfortunately, some of the holes were caused by winter flu and sickness which quickly spread to the rest of the team. The team was reeling when Christian Brothers paid a visit to Arlington and proceeded to beat the Tigers on their home mats. Badly! A real Southern-style wooping.
The Tigers are on the mend and have been back in the practice room correcting the problems identified during the Cleveland Duals. Arlington is now preparing for their annual roadtrip to Louisiana for the Deep South Duals.