Science Hill proved it deserves mention among the best teams in the state on Saturday.
The Hilltoppers finished a strong fifth out of 17 teams from four states that competed at the 12th annual Fandetti-Richardson Brawl at Freedom Hall.
Private-school powerhouse Nashville Father Ryan ruled the roost with 256 points, and the list of other top finishers read like Tennessee high school wrestling royalty. Soddy-Daisy was second with 192 points, followed by Chattanooga Baylor (172.5) and Bradley Central (144.5).
The ’Toppers finished just one-half point behind defending state champion Bradley Central, a team they beat in a dual meet for the first time ever one week ago.
“We can hold our own,” Science Hill head coach Jeff Price said. “In an individual tournament, it’s hard to judge. There are all kinds of variables which come into play.
“I know Soddy-Daisy left two of their best wrestlers at home because it’s time for them to rest. Their run up to the regional tournament is a lot different than our run.”
While Soddy was short-handed, most of the other schools were not, making it impressive that six Science Hill wrestlers reached championship semifinals and another five competed in consolation semifinals.
Among the strong performances, Jacob Wilson led most of his semifinal at the 182-pound weight class before Derek Hicks of Simon Kenton (Ky.) rallied to take a 14-12 decision. Likewise, Carson Schurlknight led the first half of his 138 match before Father Ryan’s Pat Cosgrove came back in the second and third periods to win 10-5.
However, Schurlknight wouldn’t be denied in his third-place match.
Down 3-0, he scored a takedown at the end of the second period to close within a point. With just six seconds left and Zach Houston of North Henderson (N.C.) nearly stalling out the match, Schurlknight scored two points on a reversal for a 4-3 decision.
“The whole period I took bottom, he got the stall call, but I looked up and I was down by one,” Schurlknight said. “I figured I better doing something pretty quick. I ended up with a better chance at a reversal than an escape and ended up getting it with six seconds left.”
It was a never-say-die attitude which should carry him a long ways in the postseason.
“You never give up,” he said. “I’ve won matches in the last period and lost matches in the last period. It can go either way, but you have to be in position and know what you’re doing.”
In the other semfinal matches, Ben Lowery at 195 and Tyler Knowles at 132 lost major decisions, while Justin Snyder at 160 and Cole Schurlknight at 126 suffered late pinfalls.
Snyder lost a hard-fought 4-2 decision in his third-place match, but Lowery became a third-place medalist with a pin over Jordan Taylor of Jay M. Robinson (N.C.).
“I felt he was going to wear down eventually,” Lowery said. “I just had to have a move to take him down. Once I got that arm and turned him over, I knew it was over.”
Five other Hilltoppers rose to the top of the consolation brackets. They were: Damien Hayes (220), Wesley Vaughan (152), Steven Goldstein (145), Ben Riley (113) and Gary Hudgins (106).
Hayes ended Science Hill’s efforts with a pinfall to place fifth in his weight class.
The tournament, accompanied by Friday’s Moffat Duals, was a tribute to three of Price’s former wrestlers, Scott Fandetti, Todd Richardson and Scott Moffatt, all who died young.
“There is extra pressure with this match,” Lowery said. “Coach always wants us to do our best and it makes it tough because he’s on you to do your best all the time.”