DANDRIDGE – Region 1-AAA continued to roll out the welcome mat for Science Hill wrestling on Tuesday at Jefferson County.
The Hilltoppers defeated Dobyns-Bennett 63-12 to win their fourth straight region title and 10th in the past 12 years.
Coach Jeff Price’s Hilltoppers (37-4) advanced to the state Feb. 3-4 at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin. It’s the 12th straight state berth for Price, who’s in his 13th year at Science Hill. The 37 victories are a new school record.
Watching the Hilltoppers pile up hard takedowns and quick pins, the regional looked like a formality.
Science Hill needed less than an hour to defeat Morristown West 66-16 in the semifinals, and then waited more than an hour while Dobyns-Bennett outlasted Jefferson County, 34-31, in a match that went on more than twice as long as the Hilltoppers’ had lasted.
Science Hill tallied 15 pins on the night. Carson Shurlknight, Justin Snyder, Damian Hayes and Derek Sutherland each won both of their matches with pins. Hayes’ semifinal match lasted 15 seconds and his championship match took 12 seconds. Snyder’s pair of victories required a combined 2:46.
“I’m proud of the fact that we set a (school) record tonight with most wins in a season with 37,” Price said. “This is the most fun bunch of kids. I knew I had nine really solid kids in those seniors, and then we’ve had a couple or three who I wasn’t sure about who’ve done well. Damian Hayes and Jacob Wilson are kind of virtual beginners and they’ve won over 30 matches this year.”
Wesley Vaughn, Ben Lowery and Steven Goldstein each recorded two victories. Lowery recorded a 12-4 major decision in the championship after his 61-second pin against Morristown West.
Vaughn won his semifinal with a pin (1:54) and took a 17-1 decision against Dobyns-Bennett in the championship. Goldstein needed 16 seconds for a pin against Morristown West, and then won in title match when Clint Caldwell had to retire due to a bloody nose.
“The two that I was really proud of were Wesley Vaughn and Steven Goldstein because the two matches they wrestled were a lot closer in the duals (earlier this season),” Price said. “We just won those by decision. I challenged those two guys as seniors to step up and assert themselves. I was proud of those two guys for stepping up and wrestling like seniors.”
Dobyns-Bennett coach Buzzy Mann was pleased to advance to the state with a young team. Even being competitive against Science Hill would’ve qualified as gravy.
“The main thing for us with us being so young was looking to get back to state duals,” said Mann, whose Indians are now 19-11 on the season. “And the match with Jeff County got us there. We’re starting nine freshmen and sophomores out of 14. We think that’s pretty good just getting there.”
Anything less than dominance would’ve irked Price and passionate, vocal assistant Jimmy Miller, who seemingly all but summoned pins and takedowns at times with an effective mixture of instruction and inspiration.
“Science Hill’s pretty tough,” Mann said. “Their ranked seventh (in the state), I think, and they do a fantastic job coaching them over there. I’m proud of them and look forward to seeing them at the state duals.”
Dobyns-Bennett’s points in the final came via pins from Bryson Begley and Blake Ruth.
Carson Shurlknight and Gary Hudgins were also each victorious in the semifinals and championship for Science Hill.
Shurlknight’s twin brother Cole only wrestled against D-B, and he won with a pin (2:56). Cole finished third at the state in 2011. Among Hilltoppers, Cole, Snyder and Goldstein are expected to provide the stiffest competition at the state.
Science Hill is ranked third among public schools in one poll and fourth in the other.
It will host South Greene, Cocke County and Morristown East for three tune-ups matches on Tuesday.
The Hilltoppers seniors include Goldstein, the Shurlknights, Sutherland, Vaughn, Snyder, Sam Arms, Lowery, Tyler Knowles and Josh Stroud.