The Cumberland County High School Jet wrestling team defeated SMHS in their annual last Thursday of January match, 51-28. A Jet wrestler, left, prepares to take down his opponent during one of the early matches.

The Stone Memorial Panther and CCHS Jet wrestling teams went head-to-head in their second annual county battle which occurred Thursday, Jan. 31.

As the Stone Panthers continue to build a new team, the CCHS Jets have come out on top again by a score of 51-28. The Jets won nine matches with pins by Jacob Kilby, Duane Wynn, Jeremy Aytes, Jake Kilby, Josh Stevens, Darel Davis, and Jeremy Shepherd.

"The Jets arrived pumped up and ready for a victory. The team has acquired much skill and endurance throughout the season," said Coaches Ron Cook and Wes McNeeley.

The Panthers won five matches with pins by Victor Barillas, Luke Hively, and Bryan Pugh.

"While the Jets did win big, the score does not show how close the match really was. I thought we should have won at 125 and 140," said SMHS Coach Brian Parker. "We started out winning both matches and then made some critical mistakes that cost us those matches. Losing Ben Sapp to a shoulder injury two weeks ago really hurt our chances giving the Jets a 12-point swing. He has pinned the Jet 171-pounder several times.

"This, however, is the beauty of this sport. Anyone can be beaten on any given day whether it be by making mistakes, injuries, or underestimating your opponent,” said Parker.

The match started at 112 pounds where Kilby’s experience showed as he quickly pinned Rafael Soriano.

Then Wynn’s strength proved too much for female wrestler Kasie Williams at 119 as he got the pin in 22 seconds.

Panther Corbin Maddox dropped down to 125 pounds to face Rogers letting Ashley Sherrill claim the forfeit at 130.

Maddox took the lead going into the second period 4-2 but lost control on his feet costing him a five-point move.

Rogers went on to maintain the lead despite Corbin’s last ditch efforts to throw him to his back.

“Rogers is a scrapper. He took advantage of Corbin’s mistake and fought him off the whole third period to win. He really shined for the Jets.”

At 135, Justin Horn of Stone dominated the match 15-2 against Phillips who proved to be very hard to pin. With the eam score now 10-15 in favor of the Jets, the 140 pound match-up between Stone’s Leko Kemmer and Cumberland’s Jeremy Aytes proved to be the match of the night.

Kemmer jumped out to a ten-point lead in the first period by putting Aytes on his back several times. Aytes followed up with a reversal and some back points of his own making the score 12-5 after the first period. Thirty seconds into the third period, Kemmer was dominating the match 18-6 when Aytes caught his head during a cradle attempt. Aytes got the reversal and went on to pin Kemmer with a head lock.

“Losing this match kind of took the wind out of our sails. Leko was really wrestling well against a tough kid. He made a critical mistake by not circling to get his cradle and Jeremy took advantage by catching Leko with his head leaning over. I have a lot of respect for Aytes. He works hard and he never ever quits.” noted Parker.

The Jets received a forfeit for Johnson at 145, while Panther Luke Hively quckly pinned Morgenstern at 152.

“We don’t have the bodies to fill both weight classes and we new we could get a pin against Morgenstern, so we bumped Luke up,” Parker continued.

The next three weight classes really showed the difference in experience between the teams.

Panther rookies Cole, Brady, and Walker were outmatched by the AAU and high school experience of Kilby, Stephens, and Davis. The Jets got pins in all three weight classes putting the win out of reach for the Panthers.

“These guys just don’t have the mat time yet to beat experienced wrestlers but in time they will. I was proud of the way they fought in their respective matches and look for big things from them in the future,” Parker continued.

According to Coach Ron Cook, Kilby is a rookie, while Stephens is in his second year and Davis is in his third year.

At 215 pounds, Stone’s Bryan Pugh gave up 25 pounds to Casey Hardy and still managed a second period pin. Cook added Hardy is in his first year.

In the heavyweight match-up, the Jets Jeremy Shepherd showed a lot of improvement over last year as he avenged his lose to Billy Sapp. He nailed Sapp with two head tosses during the match to get a second period pin.

“Even though Billy was physically stronger, Jeremy showed some speed and timing with a couple of good moves. Billy’s time away from the mat last semester has put him way behind this season as evident by this match. He has some catching up to do,” added Parker.

The final match of the night came at 103 pounds where Victor Barillas made short work of the Jet’s Kevin Moore with a pin in 1:36. Cook said Moore is also a first-year wrestler.

“Victor is definitely a bright spot for us and I hope he can make some noise in the region tournament next weekend even though he is a rookie sophomore. I believe that this rivalry can continue to help the sport of wrestling grow in our community. Even though the guys are out to dominate each other on the mat, many of the them talk as friends when the match is over. We will take this lose into the region tournament and next season as a reminder that we can always improve and as motivation to go beyond our limits and learn from our mistakes,” he concluded.

The Panthers will compete this weekend in the Region 2 individual tournament which includes 25 Knoxville and surrounding-area teams. Individual wrestlers must place in the top four to qualify for the coveted State Tournament.

Coaches and parents of the Jets "are very proud of the dedication and commitment this team has shown this season. The team will travel to Cookeville on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9 for the Regional Individual Tournament. Coaches Cook and McNeely anticipate many victories from this event, and are looking forward to several boys advancing to the state tournament on Feb. 14-16 at UT-Chattanooga.

"Good luck to both teams and all of these fine wrestlers," said Parker.

Senior Night

SMHS senior wrestlers, Leko Kemmer and Brian Pugh, were presented with a watch containing the Stone Memorial Wrestling logo with a panther head in the center of the face. Amber Collins received a fleece pullover with her name and “#1 Wrestling Manager” embroidered on it. Mothers of the seniors received roses, while the fathers of the seniors recieved a panther cap. Volunteer coach Rick Dale presented the bios via the PA system while Coach Parker and Booster President Joy Sapp presented the gifts at the center of the wrestling mat.