WHITWELL, Tenn.–The Mat Tigers of Whitwell dropped two dual matches Thursday night at home to Chattanooga Central and Signal Mountain in Tri-Match of region foes.
Although it was a numbers game yet again for Whitwell’s head coach John Weiss, his team proved once again that wrestler-for-wrestler, they can still be competitive on the mat and in the region. In the higher weights, where the Tigers have been strong throughout the season, thrived against two elite squads at Whitwell.
“Both Signal and Central hold huge region implications,” Weiss said. “There were different matchups in different matches, though, that were crucial for individual region seeding time come February.”
As for Signal Mountain, they find themselves in a great position, dually, going into the holiday and tournament break with a win over the Tigers and Pounders. That puts their record at 7-0 early in the season with a chance to upend some region heavyweights.
“From a dual-meet perspective, it really propels us into post-January where we’ll have Hixson and East Hamilton,” Eagles head coach Phillip Mansueto said. “Those really tough dual meets. So so get a lot of wins under our belt, it works really good. And the more time we get on the mat, the better we’re going to do.”
Signal Mountain 53, Whitwell 28
The key to victory lied beneath the heavier weights for Whitwell as they took on Signal Mountain in a region bout on their home mat.
The night would start in the 126-pound weight class where Whitwell’s Jaren Thames would pick up the pin over Joey Harig after trailing 5-0 for most of the match. Thames got the pin with just over a minute left in that bout.
“Our lower weight classes like 126 pounds are progressing well,” Weiss said. “We’re going to work over the Christmas break on getting some different technique in there. I need to get better as a lower weights coach. Our upper weights look pretty good, and I think that’s because I was an upper weight when I wrestled and still am an upper weight.”
Signal Mountain would take the next five weight classes with three forfeits and two pins from Luen Nicolas and Daniel Dawson. Whitwell, though, would fight back hard heading into upper weights and the late 106-, 113-, and 120-pound classes.
“We know Whitwell’s strong, and we know they’re big,” Mansueto said. “Their coach does a great job with their heavyweights. The biggest thing for us was controlling the match, controlling position, controlling their bodies on the mat. Against kids from Whitwell who are strong and athletic like that, you can’t make mistakes.”
Into the heavyweights, those words rang true. Warner Ashworth was just the first as he picked up four points for the Tigers on a major decision over Will Davis in the 170-pound weight class, 10-2. He would be followed by Daniel Mikel who pinned Jake Woodlief in a minute and 10 seconds and Will Carter who took only 26 seconds to down Payne Davis.
TD Argo would pick up a forfeit in the 220-pound weight class to pull the Tigers within two points of the Eagles, 30-28.
Steven Goff would pull a Lee Corso and tell the Tigers, “Not so fast,” as he pinned Garret Gass in the second period, giving the Eagles a six point cushion. Samuel Wickizer would pick up a forfeit in the 106-pound weight class, followed by Daniel Urhorchuk, who got a technical fall (16-0) over Amado Gomez in the 113-pound division. Rounding off the night was Clay Gallaut who got the forfeit win in the 120-pound weight class.
“You can tell these Whitwell wrestlers get in the weight room,” Mansueto said. “That was a big component that we struggled with. We’re just not as strong as Whitwell from a physical level. If you’re not stronger than them, you really have to work on the technique and mat awareness. You realy have to use your wrestling technique to over compensate.”
As for Whitwell, they’ll continue on, knowing that their upper hand lies in their higher weights.
“Our upper weights are showing up,” Weiss said. “We’re just going to try and open up the technique, especially in the lower weights. What we need to focus on is not the team points but in the individual.It’s hard to win team matches when you give up 24 points from the start.”
Both squads participate in the CCS Christmas Tournament this Saturday along with neighbor to the north, Sequatchie County.
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Chattanooga Central 51, Whitwell 24
The Pounders came into Whitwell Thursday night with a larger roster than in 2015 and a lot of talented wrestlers, especially in the lower and middle weight classes.
The night started out with the 113-pound weight class, which was tightly contested and ended in a 19-13 decision in favor of Central’s Aaron Smith. With forfeitures in the prior weight class (106) and the next weight class (120), Whitwell held an early deficit of 15-0 going into the 126-pound matchup.
Jaren Thames held a 5-4 lead going into the second period of his 126-pound bout with Jimmy Herrera. Herrera tied it up shortly into that period with an escape before pulling off a takedown. It wasn’t really needed, though, as Herrera pinned Thames 41 seconds into the second period.
Now down 27-0 after another forfeit, Whitwell’s John King performed a takedown followed by a pin just 45 seconds into his match with Chris Kouris in the 138-pound weight class. That would put six points on the board for the Tigers before the Pounders would pick up 12 stragith points off of pins by Dylan Rowe and 2015 State Champion Alonzo Heyward.
The Tigers, though, would pick up 15 straight off of pins and forfeits in the upper weight classes. Charles Jones picked up the last of the avaliable points for match with a pin in the second period over Whitwell’s James Headrick.
Signal Mountain 50, Chattanooga Central 24
Signal Mountain, looking to remain undefeated, took on Chattanooga Central down in Whitwell, spurring a tighter battle later in the night.
The Eagles started out with a close 113-pound matchup that went their way in the form of a 5-3 decision by Kale Albritton over Aaron Smith. Signal Mountain would also take the next two matchups via a pin by Isaac Tate and a 5-1 decision by Joey Harig.
Jimmy Herrera picked up the first win for Central in the 132-pound weight, but that would be the last Pounder victory until the 170-pound bout where Alonzo Heyward pinned Signal’s Buffington. The Pounders would pick up two more victories, but Signal would be too much for the Pounders late as they flew past Central 50-24.
The Eagles remain undefeated on the season, sitting a 7-0 going into the holiday break.