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Vikings, 'Toppers rule regional duals

STEVE WILMOTH, TriCitiesSports.com • Feb 12, 2017 at 1:04 AM

KINGSPORT — State team duals semifinalists Tennessee High and Science Hill dominated the Region 1-AAA individual duals this weekend at the Buck Van Huss Dome, combining for titles in 10 of the 14 weight classes.

The Vikings and the Hilltoppers each produced five overall winners on Saturday in staging another epic team competition that wasn’t decided until the final head-to-head match between Tennessee High’s Jeremy Spangler and Science Hill’s Denzel Medina at 195 pounds. Spangler took a 3-1 decision over Medina — Science Hill’s final competitor of the day — to give the Vikings a razor-thin 205½-205 edge in overall points.

Other Tennessee High wrestlers earning region titles were Nathan Scott (220 pounds), Dewey Pendley (138), Dillon Pendley (113) and Trent Nelson (106). For Nelson it was the fourth regional title in as many years as a Viking. Scott’s victory came after taking a year away from the mat and pushed the Vikings’ final winning margin to 209½ -205.

Science Hill got wins from Nathan Wysong (120), Cooper Williams (132), Arthur James (152), William Diehl (160) and Weston Brown (182).

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Host Dobyns-Bennett will send nine grapplers to next weekend’s state individual duals, including Region 1-AAA champions Dillon Lemons and Cade Salyers.

“We had a really good weekend,” said D-B coach Buzzy Mann. “We are young and lack wrestlers in some spots, but we are happy to be taking six guys back from last year and three of our newcomers are going.”

Lemons will be making his third trip but his first as a region champion after needing just a minute to pin Tennessee High’s Dominic Fields at 126 pounds.

“I just had to go out and do what my coaches have taught me and do what I needed to do,” Lemons said. “It’s a good feeling. A lot of hard work paid off.”

Things looked bleak for Salyers in the final championship match of the day. The Tribe sophomore trailed Jefferson County’s Dakota Moungey 3-2 with 10 seconds left in the 285 match. But a final counter off a reset earned Salyers a takedown and the two winning points.

“I figured I had to get low and take a shot at a takedown,” he said.

Inexplicably Moungey went for the same move.

“I was surprised that he took a shot, but I was able to get behind him and take him down,” Salyers noted.

“That was a tough match,” Mann said. “I thought Randall wrestled well and had a chance. I think that all three of our guys that made finals today have a chance to place at state.”

The Indians got consolation wins from Corbin Bumgarner (113) and Josh Rapcan (160) and fourth-place finishes from Shane Lemons (120), William Mitchell (132), Hunter Strouth (152) and Jeron Waye (220), but the team finished two points out of third place behind Jefferson County (126).

Morristown West (85½) place fifth with Volunteer (65) sixth — boosted by Logan Branham earning just the second region title in program history. Branham, a senior transfer from Colorado, pinned Jefferson County’s Aaron Lawson at 1:56 for the victory.

“He (Lawson) was my first match of my first season in Tennessee,” Branham said. “He pinned me in the second period so I was really glad to get the opportunity to prove myself today.”

It’s the second straight regional win for Branham, who also won a regional title in Colorado last year. He is a six-time All-American courtesy of six top-six placement in national tournaments and a three-time national runner-up. His state qualification in Colorado last year led to a unique international opportunity.

“Because I made the Colorado all-state team, I was given an invitation to represent my state and the USA in a tournament in Australia,” Branham explained. “It was a phenomenal experience.”

Branham says wrestling in Colorado and Tennessee features some slight differences.

“It’s a little different, probably not quite as intense here,” he said. “But there are definitely some top-level athletes who wrestle here in Tennessee.”

Three other Falcons will join Branham at the state duals next weekend. Isaac Charpenter (138 pounds) and Michael Hill (152) won third-place matches, and Alex Christian logged a fourth-place medal at 285 pounds.

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