Cleveland, TN-(WDEF-TV) The Bradley Central-Cleveland wrestling rivalry is unlike any other in Tennessee — possibly even the nation. The two have traded state titles the last eight years.
Not even a global pandemic could change the significance of this year’s annual grudge match. Here’s News 12’s Angela Moryan with the story.
Said Cleveland wrestler Trae McDaniel: “We have the best rivalry in the state of Tennessee.”
Added teammate Cody Chittum: “It’s almost as big as Michigan-Ohio State football game.”
Said Cleveland head coach Joey Knox: “We make our whole schedule around this match right here.”
Cleveland and Bradley are used to wrestling each other in front of thousands of people after being among those thousands growing up going to the match.
Said Chittum: “When I was little, it was like 3,000 people screaming, fans all over the place. It was pretty cool.”
Said Bradley Central’s Bryson Terrell: “It’s a great rivalry. Best two teams in Tennessee going at it three miles away from each other. I think it’s amazing. I love it. Love the atmosphere. It’s always a fun match.”
Angie: “How do you compare this to anything in the wrestling world?”
Said Knox: “You can’t compare it. We’re very fortunate to have a rich tradition as you can see on the wall behind me of wrestling in this community.”
Said Bradley Central head coach Ben Smith: “It’s kind of a fierce, bitter rivalry at times. Coach Knox and I and both sides of our communities have tried to clean that up. Our kids get along well, and I think our coaches get along well. Sometimes the community and the parents don’t.”
Bradley and Cleveland have combined for over 40 state titles in the last three decades — making the cross-county dual feel like a championship-deciding match.
Said McDaniel: “When you wake up that morning, you’re ready to go. Your adrenaline’s going. You’re ready to get your weight off, get on the mat and wrestle.”
Said Bradley Central’s Chase Stansberry: “State’s more important, but it’s a rivalry. You can’t look past it.”
The state tournament returns to Chattanooga after 12 years this year — giving the two powerhouses even more of an advantage.
Said McDaniel: “We’re going to be in our home territory. We’re going to sleep in our own beds, have our own facilities to cut our weight in and everything.”
Said Smith: “Yeah, we’re rivals, but at the end of the day, we want to keep the state titles in this town.”