D-B wrestlers make first state championship bid

Dave Ongie • Jan 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — With a freshman grappler setting the tone, Dobyns-Bennett rolled the dice and made school history on Thursday night.

Steven Breen started things off with a pin in the 171-pound contest, sparking the fast start that propelled D-B to a dominant 57-18 victory over South Doyle in a TSSAA Sectional Wrestling Dual.

With the win, the Indians advance to next week’s state duals for the first time in school history.

“We expected it to be a lot more of a dogfight tonight,” D-B coach Buzzy Mann said. “But when Steven Breen came out and started his match that way, we said, ‘Hey, we can roll the dice.’”

If Breen had lost or had won by a decision, Mann would have been forced to play it safe. That would have meant using Craig Carter in the 189-pound match and Evan Earles in the 215-pound match and hoping for a split.

But Breen’s pinfall allowed Mann to switch Carter and Earles and the gamble paid off — Earles picked up an 8-2 decision over Andrew Wolfenbarger at 189 and Carter beat Laderian Thomas 7-2 at 215.

A quick pin by Zack Fleming in the 285-pound match and a 6-0 decision by Brandon Joyner in the 103-pound battle staked D-B to a 21-0 lead and the Tribe never looked back.

Adam Mann, Austin Mann, Trent O’Brien, Bobby LeMaster and Brad Hoover all picked up wins by pinfall before Mark Erwin’s forfeit victory officially sparked a post-match celebration inside the Buck Van Huss Dome.

With all of the injuries that have befallen the Tribe along the way, it seemed unlikely at times that this year’s team would be the one to make the historic trip to state.

“One thing that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that Steven Breen started the season as about our seventh (best) 171-pounder,” Buzzy Mann said. “I was looking at it today and we have six kids who could really make an impact for us and they’re not here.”

A key injury to the team’s heavyweight in the first match of the season led to a shake-up at the top for the Indians, forcing Fleming to take over the 285-pound duties instead of wrestling at 215.

As a result, Fleming, Carter, Earles and Breen routinely find themselves giving up 10 or more pounds to their opponents, which makes Thursday’s fast start against South Doyle’s big men all the more impressive.

Fleming had the most severe disadvantage in terms of weight, but the senior used his quickness and strength to gain the upper-hand early against Justin Bowman.

After just 90 seconds, Bowman was on his back and Fleming had pushed D-B’s advantage to 18-0.

While the Indians already have stamped their tickets to next weekend’s state meet, they won’t have much time to rest on their laurels.

The Tribe has a match this evening against Sullivan South and Daniel Boone before what promises to be a special senior night next Tuesday as D-B prepares to depart to the state tournament after several near misses over the years.

“We’ve been very close,” Buzzy Mann said. “But we finally made it over the hump and it’s a testament of these guys and how hard they’ve worked, how much they’ve come together and how much we love each other.”

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