Rockets reaching for the stars

Saturday, February 18, 2017
Forrest senior Billy Clanton, who made it to the state tournament three straight years ended his stellar Forrest career this weekend as he could not negotiate his way through the 220-pound weight class.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a spectacular first day that produced a school record five medalists on Friday, the Forrest Rockets backed it up today with two third place finishes and a sixth spot, while two more Chapel Hill grapplers are still vying for state titles at the TSSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Franklin Ag Expo Center in Franklin.

Forrest’s lone state title in wrestling came in 2013-2014 when Tyler McClendon stormed through the 195-pound weight class.

“I believe we can get a couple more tonight,” Forrest coach Chris Slaughter said. “Coming out and performing in that first match yesterday set the tone and here we are standing in third place (team standings) right now, so this has been a pretty exciting weekend.”

Jeffery Gross (113-pound) goes for the title against Eagleville eighth-grader Wyatt McLemore, who he defeated in the region tournament last weekend at Page.

Gross is a returning state medalist and came into the tournament with just one loss on the year and has yet to be beaten in this year’s event.

Pendley, a four-time state tournament participant is determined to make the final step towards his championship dreams, saying, “One slip up and you could be at home sitting on the bench for the rest of the season, so you have to come out here and give it everything you got.”’

“It didn’t come here just to figure it out this year, I came here to win it, so it’s going to be one heck of a day.”

Pendley matches up with Pigeon Forge senior Caleb York in the 120-pound weight class title tilt.

Wesley McCoy started the consolation semifinal round for the Rockets on Saturday in the 160-pound weight class with a pin over Gunner Griffith from Sullivan East before gutting out an 8-3 win over Notre Dame junior Daniel Hodges to secure a third place finish.

First-time tournament participant Austin Geeting battled back the entire weekend before the junior’s magical run ended in a fifth-place bout with Allen Ashworth from Whitwell.

Drew Carlisle may be the biggest surprise at this year’s event and his dramatic first-year as a Rocket continued when came up huge, outlasting Fairview senior Joshua Ortiz-Derrick in a 3-1 overtime win in a region tournament rematch from last weekend at Page between the two 182-pound grapplers.

“It was a very intense match and I was a little tired going into overtime,” Carlisle said. “I came out with my feet moving in the neutral position and got the takedown.”

“It feels great, I’m glad to be here and I’m glad to place at state.”