On day two of the TSSAA State Duals Tournament in Franklin on Saturday, Tullahoma fought tooth and nail to come out with a victory, but just fell short as Maryville ended the Wildcats’ run with a 37-29 victory.
The Wildcats were defeated in the opening round of the state duals 42-34 on Friday by Science Hill. That loss knocked Tullahoma into the consolation bracket, where they were forced to take on Maryville at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Things looked good early for the Wildcats, after they built a 23-9 edge early in the matchup. However, the Rebels won seven of the final eight matches of the tournament, going on to capture the victory.
“We made a lot of mistakes like a young team would do, but our effort was so much better today. I can’t complain about that,” said THS Head Coach Al Morris. “But, we had opportunities where we had a guy on his back and he’d roll us through and we’d end up getting put on our back. To our kids’ credit, they fought back and got off their back. That was a very good match between two equal teams.”
Heading into the final bout, Tullahoma still had a chance to win or tie the matchup, trailing 34-29. In order for that to happen, Jimmy Pearson needed a technical fall (five points) or a pinfall victory (six points) over Adrian Gumm in the 220-pound matchup.
Pearson battled in his matchup, but wasn’t able to land the pin he was searching for, as Gumm secured the 8-4 decision (three points).
“His [Pearson’s] back was kind of against the wall because he had to either get the tech fall or a pin,” Morris said. “That kind of took him out of his game a little bit. He was trying stuff that he normally wouldn’t have tried, just to try to get that pin. He came up short and got put on his back trying something out of desperation and pull off the win for his team. So in essence, he really sacrificed for his team out there trying to go for something that he wouldn’t do.”
Tydrell Mitchell gave Tullahoma an early 6-0 lead on Saturday, pinning Alec Murret with 51 seconds remaining in the opening round of the 285-pound bout.
Maryville answered with back-to-back wins, taking a 9-6 advantage. Kainen Kyle defeated Hayden Malone by way of an 11-7 decision in the 106-pound matchup. Samuel Thomas then pinned Dallen Nunley with just a second left in the opening period of the 113-pound bout.
Tullahoma countered with three-straight wins, grabbing a 23-9 advantage. Cole Morse pinned Zuriel Hampton-Coffin in 29 seconds of the 120-pound matchup. Cal Rogers followed by pinning Layton Hall-Croft with 21 seconds left in the second round of the 126-pound bout.
Rhett Birdsong added a technical fall victory in the 132-pound matchup over Mason Johnson. Birdsong dominated his matchup, but just couldn’t land the pin, securing the 19-1 victory.
Maryville answered with five-straight wins over Tullahoma, including a contentious battle in the 160-pound matchup, taking a 31-23 advantage. During that 160-pound bout, John Smith did his best to fight to the end against Carter Harris, as the pair refused to get pinned. Unfortunately for Smith, Harris dominated the back half of the final period, securing the 27-18 major decision (four points) victory.
“That was a match that could have gone either way,” Morris said. “John was up against one of their good kids. They went back-and-forth and I think they rolled each other’s backs about eight times in that match. They came out on top in that match. That wasn’t the only match that decided, but it was a tossup match that we came up on the short end of.”
Tullahoma got back on the board, when Christian Jordan pinned Christian Keough in the 182-pound matchup, cutting the Wildcats’ deficit down to 31-29. Jordan won his matchup 43 seconds into the third round.
Maryville responded with a win in the 195-pound matchup, but a late call helped Tullahoma stay in the match. Initially, Dalton Crisp was ruled to have pinned Brian Nelms. However, after a stoppage, the clock never restarted, so instead of securing the pin, Crisp won his matchup by a 12-7 decision, making the overall score 34-29 with Pearson’s matchup coming up for the Wildcats.
Following the loss to Maryville, Morris spoke with his wrestlers and told them to embrace the atmosphere. The goal moving forward for the Tullahoma program is to not only get to the state tournament, but garner wins.
“I wanted the kids to look around this place, check out the facility and remember what it’s like,” Morris said. “Being able to come here is an honor, because it doesn’t happen all the time. I want them to understand what the ultimate goal is when they come here. When they step on the mat at the first of the year, our goal as a team is to wind up here in Franklin. With all the freshmen and sophomores that we have, this was a great experience for them.
“We stay in hotels, but for them to stay in a hotel, learn how to act and how manage their weights while they are at the hotels like going out to eat, not drinking or eating too much. Wrestling is such a wonderful sport because it teaches these kids so many life lessons and self-discipline. They were all able to experience those type of things this weekend.”