Commerce advanced to the state duals in convincing fashion, though it came without the team’s sharpest effort, according to the Tigers’ coach.
Wrestling at home Saturday (Jan. 23), Commerce beat the Wesleyan Wolves 51-21 in the second round of the state dual quads to move on to the Jan. 30 state tournament at Trion. The win followed a 81-0 domination of Bowdon in Round 1.
“We didn’t wrestle very well to be honest with you,” Tiger coach Kendall Love said of the Wesleyan match. “We’ve got somethings that we’ve got to get fixed and get fixed in a hurry. But our guys competed hard. It was not due to lack of effort. They competed well. We’re just doing some little things wrong, and getting ourselves into a bind when we shouldn’t.”
Love added that “anytime you can get a win over a quality opponent, you’re happy.”
“But we definitely have work to do,” he said.
Commerce won 10 of 14 bouts in a dual that began with the 145-pound weight class. Three of the Tigers’ wins came via forfeit. The Tigers surrendered pins in three of their four losses.
Love noted that the Wolves have five state placers in their lineup.
“We knew coming in that Wesleyan was a good team,” Love said. “They’ve got several state placers in the upper weights … They were tough.”
Commerce trailed 18-9 after the first five bouts but dominated the heaviest weight classes and then on into the lighter weights. Starting with a pin at 195 from Sammy Brown, the Tigers reeled off eight-straight victories, four of which came via pin fall, to take control of the dual.
In addition to Brown, Elijah Burns (220), Dawson Legg (120) and Bryson Flint (126) recorded pins.
The dual included three overtime matches, with Brayden Phillips winning perhaps the most dramatic of the extra-time bouts, prevailing 4-2 at 160.
Phillips, who sustained a cut over his eye, trailed 2-1 with less than five seconds remaining before earning an escape to force overtime.
“That was two state placers going at it, so we knew that would be a tight match,” Love said. “He cut his eye pretty bad, but he’s got heart and he toughed it out and won the match for us. That was big. That seemed to be a momentum changer right there early on.”
Jake Frates also won in overtime, 4-2, at 285. Landon Worley lost in overtime, 6-4, at 138.
J.P. Allen (106), Daniel Nash (113) and Grant Hamilton (152) won via forfeit.
Love pointed to the support the Tigers enjoyed as they hosted the state quad.
"I want to thank the people who came out," he said. "We had a great crowd and some exciting matches."
Commerce will move on to Trion next week where it will attempt to win its seventh duals title in eight years. Trion ended the Tigers’ six-year reign as Class A dual state champs with a 46-25 victory.
Check back later this week for a preview of the state dual tournament.