Anytime a team scores an impressive win over its biggest rival, it can go into the state tournament feeling very good.
Such is the case with the Father Ryan wrestling team, which is gunning for its fourth straight DII dual championship Friday and Saturday at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin.
Led by four pins and eight total victories, Ryan trumped rival Montgomery Bell Academy 38-21 Saturday before a packed house of about 1,200 fans in the Irish Gym.
Maybe the biggest win of the night came by Colin McNally, who avenged an earlier loss by pinning MBA standout Cayce Ortale at 112. McNally lost to the MBA standout on a pin in the Irish Invitational just three weeks ago.
“He was tough on me the first time, but I trained hard, worked hard, and it paid off for me this time,” the red-headed McNally said of his victory, which he called his biggest of the season. “After I turned him (Saturday), I felt like I had a good chance to win, then the pin was just special for me and the team.
“I hope our win gives us a lot of momentum going into state. I’ll train hard, and I hope it’s going to be good enough.”
Cody Frazier (103), Chris Campbell (135) and Ricky Fisher (215) also registered pins for the Irish. Jay Robertson scored a 10-2 win over Brandon Christie at 285 in one of the Big Red highlights.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Ryan coach Pat Simpson said. “We had a couple of guys who didn’t wrestle as well as we hoped, but overall, this was a pretty solid win.
“We’ve played in some really tough tournaments like the Cincinnati Moeller Invitational where we went 2-2 and at Collins Hill (Ga.), the 6A Georgia state champs. Those type matches should have us ready for state.”
Simpson knows the going will be tough this weekend.
“I’d say the favorites going in would be Baylor and Christian Brothers,” he said. “It’s going to take a super effort for us to beat those teams.”
Ryan’s first match is Friday afternoon.
The Irish have won 11 state titles overall.
• Harrison, Hillsboro reign at homecoming: It was one big homecoming night for Isaiah Harrison and his Hillsboro Burros.
In what was probably his biggest night of the season, the 6-foot-7, 195-pound Harrison not only had 14 points and 10 rebounds, but he was crowned homecoming king at halftime. Shortly thereafter, he and the Burros gave Brentwood High a lot of payback from an earlier loss this month with a District 11-AAA 57-49 victory.
Harrison had a paper crown placed on his head when he was named homecoming king. Former Philadelphia Eagle star Dennis Harrison was a sidelines observer, who was quite proud of the 10th star of his 11 children (all of them athletic). His 11th child is Isabelle, a star on the Hillsboro girls team, which beat Brentwood 35-32.
Asked what he thought would happen to Isaiah’s crown, Dennis said, “he’ll take it home and the dog may eat it.’’
“He’s probably right, Isiah laughed. “Our dog [Charlie] eats everything.”
Harrison, who played 30 of the 32 minutes, said he thought it was probably both his own and the team’s best game of the season.
“I’d say so,” he said. “Everybody was on the same page, and we played a lot better than we did at their place. We’ve kept it together and we’re playing our best ball lately.”
“We had eight players graduate last year, and we started slow,” coach Rodney Thweatt said. “It’s taken us awhile, but hopefully we’re on our way. We’re kind of in a jumble in the middle of the pack in the standings (4-4, 9-10).”
“They [Hillsboro] were sleepwalking at times when we played them at our place,” Brentwood coach Dennis King said. “They played much more up-tempo this game.
“It’s disappointing. When we fell behind, we had five chances after we stole the ball and we weren’t able to connect.”
Sophomore Cody Shelton led all scorers with 22 points for the Bruins (17-7, 5-2). He made a pair of three-pointers.
“[Shelton] was about all we had going for us in this game,” King said.
The 11-AAA tournament will be at Centennial High, beginning late next week. A pairings meeting will be held Saturday.
The District 12-AAA tournament is at McGavock.
• State Bowling tournament: Ensworth junior Miranda Mott repeated as girls DII champion, while BGA junior Casey Pope won his second individual DII boys championship. His first was in 2009.
Cane Ridge’s Aaron Ruiz won the DI boys crown.
Pope and BGA (17-2) won the boys DII team championship with a narrow 14-13 win over St. Benedict in the finals Saturday. The Wildcats avenged two regular season losses with a 16-11 win over DCA in the semis.
Host Smyrna beat Wilson Central 17½ -9½ to win the DI boys crown. It was the Bulldogs’ fourth overall crown.