BY JESSE SMITHEY
Hastily made bracket predictions based solely upon records don’t always pan out.
But upon first glance of the Class A state duals wrestling tournament bracket this past week, one could almost assume that it would come down to Signal Mountain and Halls High School.
And that, it did.
But it wasn’t all chalk. The team with the fewest losses and the defending champion didn’t reach the winner’s circle.
Halls (30-4) defeated Signal Mountain in the finale, 36-35, to give the Red Devils their first-ever TSSAA state duals wrestling championship.
Halls knocked off 32-win Page in the quarterfinals and 32-win Soddy-Daisy in the semifinals.
Signal Mountain entered the week at 19-2 and as defending Class A duals champion, having knocked off tradition-rich Greeneville 39-36 in the 2022 title match.
But this time, Halls won the close one.
Harlan Hunley, in the 145 weight class, needed a pin in the final match against Signal Mountain’s Cameron Elliott to get the six points necessary to overcome the 35-30 deficit.
Hunley locked that up at 3:13, prompting a massive celebration mat side — especially from head coach Shannon Sayne, who even donned a red blazer for the event. Sayne is a former Halls wrestler who won individual titles in 1996 and 1998.
Halls led 24-10 through the first six matches, as Briar Whaley (160 weight class), Sean Foxton (170), Matthew Cook (195) and Bull Goodman (220) picked up six points apiece.
David Cook (120) got three points in a 9-4 decision and gave Halls a 27-25 lead.
Sam Hutchisen (132) also got three from a 5-2 decision, moving Halls ahead once more, 30-29.
Signal Mountain won the 136 weight class by forfeit, and those six points gave it the 35-30 advantage over the Red Devils.
But Hunley’s dramatic win turned the final fate Halls’ way. Just like he did a day before.
Hunley’s pin in the semifinals clinched Halls a victory against Soddy-Daisy, as the Red Devils only led 29-28 going into his match.
Here’s a look at Hunley’s pin that gave Halls the state championship…
— Stephanie Sayne (@StephSayne) February 5, 2023
In other state duals results …
Gibbs (34-7) lost its Class A quarterfinal to Signal Mountain, 41-34, but eliminated Page in the first round of the consolation bracket. Soddy-Daisy eliminated Gibbs in the next round, though, 39-34.
Maryville (31-7) also went 1-2 in its appearance in the Class AA bracket, falling 52-21 to Summit in the quarterfinals. The Rebels bounced back with a consolation bracket win (45-22) over Rossview before falling to Wilson Central, 42-37, in the consolation bracket semifinals.
Lakeway Christian (9-2) fell to Boyd-Buchanan, 42-36, in the Division II-A/AA championship match. Lakeway won it all in 2022.
The Gibbs Lady Eagles entered the girls state tournament with a 16-0 mark and finished fourth.
The Division II individual championships will be Feb. 17-18 at the Williamson County Expo Center while the Division I individuals and girls individuals will be Feb. 23-25 at the same locale.