BRISTOL, Tenn. — It was a long night for most of the grapplers in Wednesday night’s Sullivan County Wrestling Duals at Viking Hall.
It took Sullivan South’s Samantha Hammonds 2 minutes, 59 seconds to wrap up her wrestling for the day.
That’s how long it took her to pin Tennessee High’s Krista Martin — Hammonds’ lone opponent for the evening.
“I knew she was a little bit bigger so I was a little bit worried about taking shots. I was scared that if I got under her, I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I kind of just let her take shots on me and I’d get my two points,” said Hammonds, who finished fourth in the TSSAA girls meet last year wrestling at 120 pounds.
The 17-year-old South senior ran cross country and played softball for the Lady Rebels, but didn’t come out for wrestling until last season.
“I was really just wanting to stay conditioned for softball. I wanted a winter sport and I wanted to do something different because I’m not good at basketball,” said Hammonds, who certainly got what she was looking for.
“How hard the conditioning is for wrestling really surprised me. The room is really hot and it just goes and goes,” she said.
Thanks to her showing at state last year, she has made a name for herself in a remarkably short time. Hammonds is being recruited by King College. Loch Haven University in Pennsylvania also has contacted her.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t expect anything like that. Especially from King. They’re like the No. 1 women’s team in the country. It was pretty crazy,” said Hammonds.
She doesn’t consider herself uncommonly strong for a girl, but she prides herself on technique.
“I’m not that strong, but I like being fast and knowing my moves. I like thinking about matches before I go through them and knowing what I’m going to do,” she said.
Limited by whatever female wrestlers the opposition brings, she is lucky to get in three matches per week. Facing a larger opponent, like she did Wednesday, is often the best way to get one in.
While she did well at 120 at last year’s state event, she intends to wrestle at 125 this year.
“So I’ll have more energy. Last year I went in starving because I cut weight,” she said.
The Dobyns-Bennett wrestling team pulled its weight and exerted predictable dominance. The Tribe topped South 54-24 and beat Tennessee High 54-27.
D-B got its stiffest resistance from Sullivan East, which led 24-7 after Bailey Hodge’s pin of Alex Jeffers at 138. That win marked the Patriots’ fourth pin in the lighter weight classes.
“I don’t like to lose, but we are getting closer. We’re getting better every time we set foot on the mat,” said East coach Matt Harris, whose team picked up a 46-31 win over Tennessee High and a 59-21 victory over South.
The Indians started to turn the tide immediately following Charles Frye’s 14-0 technical fall victory over Caleb Berg at 145. It was an uphill climb, but they added Joseph Begley’s pin of Frankie Stegall at 152 and just kept climbing.
“Our big guys came through. We’ve been counting on them all year and they did a really good job. We have a lot more experience up there. We’re still a very young team. We’ve got nine freshmen and sophomores in the lineup,” said D-B coach Buzzy Mann.