Pigeon Forge wrestlers win opener at state

PF will face Stone Memorial in semis tonight
Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:42 AM

(Follow Pigeon Forge at the state tournament on Twitter by following The Mountain Press Sports Editor Jason Davis @jasondavispress)

Pigeon Forge is one win away from another shot at a state title.

The Tigers made the TSSAA A/AA State Dual Wrestling Championships semifinal by virtue of a 41-22 victory over Nashville's Martin Luther King Jr. High in the tournament's opening round Friday afternoon.
 
While the score may look comfortable, there were some shaky moments early on for the Tigers.
 
Pigeon Forge's Riley Dowd, Nate Croley and Issac Frye won three straight to put the team up 10-0, and things were going swimmingly.
 
Then the tide turned. 
 
MLK's Royals earned a decision in the 170-pound match to score their first points. Following a pinfall at 182, they'd cut the Tigers' lead to 10-9.
 
The streak continued at 195 with another close decision, putting Pigeon Forge behind at 12-10.
 
A forfeit at 220 — where the Tigers don't have a regular wrestler — put them further behind, 18-10.
 
"At our heavier guys, we have a lot of young guys and a lot of inexperience," Foreman said. "The middle-weight guys and the light-weight guys, they've been down that road many times. and they know how to keep cool and calm. So that's always a tough place for us to start, in those top-level weights."
 
But the Royals didn't have a heavyweight, and forfeited the 285 match to PF's Nick Hilley.
 
Another forfeit at 106 put the Tigers back on top, 22-18.
 
Then the Orange and Black hit their stride.
 
Jumpstarted by a freshman Matthew Kieta's technical fall win at 113 pounds, the Tigers reeled off three-straight decisive wins.
 
"We started hitting the strength of our lineup at that point, and we felt good," Foreman said. "It was almost a sigh of relief at that point."
 
Caleb Poole's quick pinfall victory at 120, and freshman Josh Croley's decision at 126 upped the ante to 35-18 Pigeon Forge.
 
Joseph Dodgen's dominating first-round pin in the the 132-pound match was the Tigers' final win in the match, which ended 41-22 after MLK earned a win at 138.
 
Despite the victory, it was obvious Foreman didn't think his team had wrestled its best.
 
"Hopefully...that was our bad match, and we're going to come back in calm, relaxed and wrestling to our abilities."
 
Pigeon Forge wrestles again Friday night at 7:30 (8:30 Eastern Time) against Stone Memorial, which earned a four-point win over Eagleville in their first-round match.