By: Jake Hood
Wilson Central capped off their strongest season to date with a second-place finish in the state duals, falling to the wrestling dynasty of Cleveland High School.
The Wildcats remained undefeated throughout the season, rolling 25-0 through their ninth-straight Region 5AAA Championship. Going into the state tournament, the Wildcats were third in the state, behind Cleveland and Bradley Central. The Wildcats then surged into the state championship. In their first match, the Wildcats defeated the Science Hill team that they swapped third and fourth place with, sliding by with a 48-24 victory. Following the match with Science Hill, the Wildcats squeaked past second-ranked Bradley Central 40-30. This was monumental for the Wildcats, as they single-handedly knocked out two of the power three of the Chattanooga area. Wilson Central punched its ticket to the state semifinal against Centennial. This proved to not be a problem for the Wildcats, rolling over the Centennial Wildcats 43-9. The Wildcats then moved on to battle the Blue Raiders of Cleveland in the TSSAA State Championship. This proved to be tough for the Wildcats, as 2 of their first 3 competitors were pinned. Starting off at the 182 class, Matthew Hills fell to Tetoe Boyd in a minor decision, and both Connor Staggs and Byron Mabry went down by pinfall. Jesse Richardson shifted the momentum back to the Wildcats with a pinfall over Blue Raider Nick Nicodemis in the heavyweight class. This did not last long, however. Nicholas Mercante fell to Bentley Ellison by a 14-5 major decision, putting the Wildcats down 23-6 going into the 113 class. Hunter Borders, reigning state runner-up and 2018 state champion, took Arlo Laxton in a 9-2 decision. The Blue Raiders took the next 2 matches, but Riley Fort, Cole Fort, and Steven Fisak all managed minor decisions in a valiant effort to come back from a sizable deficit. However, this proved not enough, as both Levi Stone and Anthony Pyron dropped their matches, and the Wildcats gave up a forfeit in the 170 class. This ended the match at a 43-18 loss.
The Wildcats ended their season at 28-1, with their only loss coming in the state championship to a three-peating Cleveland. This was the best finish that Wilson Central Wrestling has ever had. However, this momentum has not subsided. The Wildcat wrestlers will battle in the individual state tournament on February 20-22. These matches will be broadcast on the NFHS Network.