FRANKLIN — Armed with the school’s first undefeated record, Wilson Central had high hopes of bringing home the Wildcats’ first state dual wrestling championship from the Williamson County Ag Expo Center last Saturday.

But Cleveland, which beat Central in three straight state finals from 2013-15, was looking for another threepeat and, backed by a loud cheering section, found it with a 43-18 win.

“They’re a powerhouse,” Wildcats coach John Kramer said of the Blue Raiders. “They’ve set the bar we’re trying to reach.”

Cleveland won the first three bouts, two by fall, for a 15-0 lead before Jesse Richardson came through with a pin at 285 to cut the margin to 15-6. But the Wildcats were wrestling from behind the rest of the evening. They picked up four more wins out of the 14 total weight classes, but none by fall, while the Raiders racked up one more pin and a forfeit at 170, the final match, after the matter had been decided.

“We got to win the close ones,” Kramer said. “We lost a couple of close ones, and that always hurts in the end.

Cleveland’s a tough team. We’re trying to beat them every year.”

Wilson Central opened the 16-team tournament Friday with a 48-24 triumph over Science Hill and a 40-30 win over Cleveland’s crosstown rival Bradley Central. The Wildcats returned Saturday to knock out local favorite Centennial 43-9 for their 28th triumph of the season.

“This is the first time we went undefeated in the regular season,” Kramer said. “Ending the season 28-1, it’s a pretty good year. We’re really happy. We only have two seniors on the team, so we got everybody coming back but two, so it’ll be another good year next year.”

But before next year, the individual tournament has two rounds to go, starting this coming weekend with the Region 6-AAA tournament at Rossview. The top four in each class will be back at the Williamson Ag Center the weekend of Feb. 20-22 for that state tournament.

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