BLUFF CITY — Science Hill keeps pulling away from the rest of the Region 1 wrestling field.
Wrapping up their ninth regional title in 11 years, the Hilltoppers became the first team in Region 1 history to score over 300 points.
With seven individual championships, 11 finalists and 12 grapplers qualifying for state, Science Hill beat runner-up Dobyns-Bennett 320-151, thus shattering the margin of victory record for a third straight year.
Even if you combined the total by Dobyns-Bennett and third-place Sullivan South, the ’Toppers would have still won the championship by 24 points.
“I’ve had some great groups of kids, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group better than this one,” Science Hill head coach Jeff Price said. “For four years with the exception of a couple of minor mess-ups, they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do. They deserve to have good things happen to them.”
Cole Schurlknight headlined Science Hill’s championship efforts winning his fourth straight regional title at the 126-pound weight class.
Schurlknight pinned Daniel Boone’s Adam Whitfield in less than two minutes.
“I’m pretty excited about it because there are only 4-5 other guys who have done it in the history of this region,” Schurlknight said about his fourth title. “I’m stoked to be one of them.”
He hopes to follow up the dominant performance with a state championship next week.
“I’m confident,” Schurlknight said. “I’m pretty sure I can compete and pull out a top finish.”
His brother, Carson, added his name to the list of regional champions minutes later. In the 145-weight class, Carson Schurlknight pulled out a hard-fought 9-6 decision over Lucas McReynolds of Sullivan South.
In the 160 class, Justin Snyder wrapped up his third regional title with an 11-6 decision over Jeremiah Rogers of David Crockett.
Tyler Knowles and Steven Goldstein each earned their second regional titles. Knowles pinned Tyler Yoakley of South in 3:12 in the 132 class, and Goldstein scored the fall over Trent Williams of Seymour in 2:52 in the 138 class.
Wesley Vaughn pulled out a 3-1 decision in the 152 bracket, as Science Hill swept the 126 through 160 weight classes.
The final championship came at 220, where Damian Hayes took a 9-7 decision over Tyler Allen of Sevier County.
Runner-up finishers for Science Hill were: Gary Hudgins at 106, Derek Sutherland at 120, Jacob Wilson at 182 and Ben Lowery at 195.
Sam Arms at 170 also qualified for next week’s state championships with a third-place finish.
“Those guys who won close, and even a couple of close losses, those matches are better to get them ready for next week,” Price said. “They will be in a place where they’re going to have to string two or three tough matches together, and figure out a way to win.”
Other local schools found varying degrees of success.
Despite bringing just nine wrestlers to the regional championship, Elizabethton had five grapplers — Nick Maylar at 138, Dalton Callahan at 145, Brandon Taylor at 152, Logan Buck at 160 and Tank Williams at 220 — qualify for state.
“We had four third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish,” Cyclones coach Curt Maylar said. “There is some tough competition here. If you can come out and place, that says a lot because Region 1 is pretty tough.”
Daniel Boone had one regional champion at 195, Trevor Shropshire, who qualified to the state for a second straight year. He had the match of the night against Science Hill’s Lowery.
With Shropshire holding a 6-3 lead in the final period, Lowery rallied to tie at 6-6. An escape with 1:02 left, followed by a take down in the closing seconds handed a three-point victory to Shropshire.
He will be joined at the state meet by Whitfield at 125.
“I knew Trevor would have a tough match, but he wrestled hard and he wrestled smart,” Boone head coach Reid Ratliff said. “He pulled out a win at the end and now Shropshire is a regional champ.
“Then, I’m tickled to death for Adam. He’s been wrestling since the fourth grade. He placed fourth as a freshman, but at that time, they only took three to the state. I’m glad his senior year, he’s getting to go to the state tournament.”
David Crockett had just one state qualifier, Rogers, who battled Snyder tough in the 160 championship. His showing is something Pioneers coach Tod Parker believes the program can build off of.
“He fought hard this weekend,” Parker said. “We had a young team this year, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re going to try to build something off of what Jeremiah did today.”
It was an especially rough go-round for Happy Valley.
Timmy Morris and Landon Baker each missed qualifying for the state by one-point decisions.
“A tough day,” Warriors coach Randy Wood said. “Both of those boys have been sick all week. We did the best we could, but the competition is tough. Region 1 is the toughest region in the state outside of Chattanooga.”
One thing for certain, was no one was tougher in Region 1 than Science Hill.
“For a lot of them, it’s the reward for 4-5 years of hard work,” Price said. “I love these kids. This is a happy night, but a sad night too, knowing this is the last time we line up for the regionals together. Losing a great group of nine seniors after next week, it’s going to be hard for me.”