CLAYTON — After a 72-12 victory over Wakefield that capped off what Cleveland wrestling coach Scott Riley called the “preseason,” the Rams enter the heart of their schedule with a 4-0 record.
It’s a season with a lot of promise thanks to a blend of experienced senior wrestlers and talented newcomers. On Tuesday, both groups stepped up against the Wolverines.
Seniors Derrick Applewhite and Chanse Wallace, both with more than 100 wins in their prep careers, took care of business with pins in their weight classes of 132 pounds and 220 pounds, respectively.
Jhavonte Moon, ranked third in the state in the 145-pound weight class, made quick work of the Wolverine’s Corey Simpson to supply Cleveland with six more points.
Senior Josiah Evans won via forfeit at 138 pounds, as did Bryer Rogers at 285, while junior Adam Collins pinned Wakefield’s Felipe Fuentes in the first round of their 120-pound match.
“We’ve got five to seven guys that we can lock in there as a win on most nights,” Riley said. “They’re obviously our leaders, and they’re going to help take those young guys up to midseason form.”
Leading the pack of the young guys is freshman Cameron Marquees, who has surprised with a 4-0 record in the season’s first week.
Sophomores Jakob Cox (152) and Tony Lynn (160) earned first-round pins for the Rams and figure to play roles for Cleveland in its first season in the new Two Rivers 3A Conference.
“I like what I see,” Riley said. “We graduated a lot last year with our first senior class, so we knew we had a lot of young guys, and they’ve been pretty good. We’ve got some good freshmen and first-year wrestlers who are showing good growth early in the year.”
Other wrestlers earning six points for the Rams on the night thanks to forfeits were Matthew Cruz at 126 pounds, Cameron Pittman at 170 and Trevor Bryant at 182.
Eric Albertson benefited from a Cleveland forfeit in the 195-pound weight division, and Wakefield’s Robert Belonga posted a second-round pin at 106 to give the Wolverines their only points of the match.
The Rams are coming off of back-to-back 20-plus win seasons that included a pair of regular-season conference championships and a conference tournament championship a year ago.
Now a member of the Two Rivers 3A Conference, Cleveland will perhaps have a tougher road to the top of the standings, being part of a conference with a little more depth to it.
“Our old conference was kind of top heavy as (Pikeville C.B.) Aycock and us kind of went at it every year,” Riley said. “This one is going to be a tougher conference top to bottom. Everyone’s got a good team, and everyone can beat you if you have an off night.”