Tigers earn another berth at state
Coach Greg Foreman’s Tigers have done it again.
And again, and again.
The Pigeon Forge wrestling team earned its fourth-straight Region 2-A/AA duals championship Thursday night at Gibbs High School, where it beat the hometown Eagles 43-26. With the victory the Tigers have earned a spot, yet again, in the TSSAA Wrestling State Dual Meet in Franklin.
Last season — for the second year in a row — the Tigers finished as state runners-up to champion Chattanooga Central. It was also the second time in a row the Tigers have come frustratingly close — a 30-26 loss — to a state title.
This year’s incarnation of the Tigers is led by seniors Joseph Dodgen (126 pounds) and Nate Croley (145), who are both 100-match winners in their Pigeon Forge careers.
Dodgen finished fourth in the state individual tournament last season and is a steady, fearless competitor with a dogged determination on the mat.
Croley, like Dodgen, is winner who exudes calm confidence in his matches.
Both are ranked second in the state in their weight class by tennesseewrestling.com.
Also ranked from Pigeon Forge are junior Caleb Poole (sixth at 120) and freshman Matthew Kieta (fifth at 106).
Poole has been a staple of the Tigers team since his freshman season and has steadily improved into one of the team’s top wrestlers.
Kieta, in his first year with the high school program, is following in the footsteps of his older brother, David Kieta, who finished as state runner-up last season at 182 as a senior.
The state dual meet begins Friday afternoon at 3:30 and continues into Saturday evening.