Matt Turner wants a district title on the mat this winter. Last Saturday, his Pioneers showed the goal isn’t so farfetched.
Competing against 16 teams from East Tennessee and Northern Georgia in the Ooltewah Invitational, the Pioneers emerged from the field in fourth place. Along the way, Warren County had seven performers take home medals in their weight class, highlighted by Alec Smith’s second-place finish in the 138-pound weight class.
“It was a good showing for us. We’re still growing as a team,” said Turner. “There’s a lot of potential with this group and they’re working hard. Their best is yet to come.”
Smith secured the team’s highest finish on the podium by topping Dalton’s Alex Pace early, then taking down Bradley Central’s Braden Beavers and Whitwell’s Cooper Horton with early pins.
Smith’s path to the top was blocked in the finals, when Gage Boggess was able to pin the Pioneer in the first period to take the 138-pound title.
Four Pioneers – Caleb Mackie (106 pounds), Kalah Lusk (152 pounds), Stephen Curtis (160 pounds) and Ike Gillentine (182 pounds) – all earned bronze. They all followed similar paths to the stage as well.
Mackie, Lusk and Curtis all fell early to what would be the eventual champion in their weight class, then battled back to dominate the consolation bracket. Gillentine also lost early and bounced back with wins in the consolation bracket, though his loss came to the second-place finisher in his class.
The quartet combined to go 11-4, with seven of the victories coming by pinfall.
Hunter Pezzimenti (145 pounds) and Zach Parson (195 pounds) each finished fourth in their classes, while Austin McBride (285 poudns), Noah O’Shields (170 pounds) and Alan Esparza (132 pounds) all came up one win short of the podium.
Baylor School won the event with a final score of 150 pounds. Walker Valley finished second with 137 points, followed by East Hamilton with 133.5 points. The Pioneers collected 129 points.
Warren County was scheduled to make its home debut Tuesday, but the match had to be postponed due to inclement weather. Turner is still working on a make-up date.
The Pioneers are set to compete at Cascade Friday before competing in the Tullahoma Invitational Saturday.