JOHNSON CITY — Try as it might, Dobyns-Bennett couldn’t quite dislodge Science Hill from the top of the Region 1 wrestling heap.
A late comeback by Hilltoppers 120-pound grappler Matt Dammann marked the turning point for Science Hill, which posted a 35-30 championship match victory over the Tribe during Wednesday’s Region 1 wrestling duals at the old Science Hill gym.
The Hilltoppers trailed the Tribe 30-28 with two bouts remaining when Dammann stepped on the mat with D-B’s Christian Davis.
Dammann took the upper hand early, but let Davis climb back into a 7-7 tie after the Johnson City wrestler committed a couple of technical violations. A takedown by Davis put him down by two points.
Action resumed after a short stoppage for blood. Davis appeared to be in control until Dammann exploded, throwing the Indian wrestler over his shoulder and slamming him to the mat in a spectacular head-over-heels reversal and near-fall. Time ran out seconds later to seal his 12-9 decision.
“He’s had his ups and downs this season on and off the mat and it worked out for him,” said Science Hill coach Jimmy Miller. “We ended up on the good side of that coin tonight. We could have very well been on the other side of it.”
A 15-4 major decision by Sam Lane over Ian Allen at 126 pounds sealed it for the Hilltoppers, who have collected three of the last four Region 1 duals titles.
Science Hill (29-9) faced the Indians with its captain, 132-pounder Max Vaughn, forfeiting due to a concussion he received during the Hilltoppers’ preceding 59-25 win over District 2 runner up Morristown East.
Austin Bagley’s 12-2 major decision over D-B’s Austin Frye at 145 and Costa Kalogeros’ 16-9 decision over Tyler Dean at 160 got the home crowd into the match. Benjamin Curtis’ 2-1 loss to the Indians’ Jonathan Ruth in the 285-pound class lacked excitement, but the mission was accomplished.
“Even though we lost the match, we were able to take that match six minutes and it saved a lot of points,” Miller said.
The Indians (19-4) got pins from Palmer Begley (152), Clint Caldwell (170) and Bryson Begley (195) and an encouraging decision from Alex Jeffers at 145 to raise hopes for D-B’s first regional wrestling title.
“We had two tough matches today,” said D-B coach Buzzy Mann, whose squad beat District 2 champion Jefferson County 40-32 in Wednesday’s earlier match. “Science Hill wrestled well. We beat them at 145 on Monday and they got us there tonight.”
Both Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett advanced to the TSSAA state dual meet in Franklin on Feb. 1.