Most acknowledged that Region 4 wrestling teams are generating more balance.
"The region as a whole is making great strides, and I think we're seeing more balance," Tyner coach Wayne Turner said Saturday. "Of course, Soddy-Daisy and Ooltewah are still up there, but the rest of us are catching up."
Twelve teams grabbed at least one of the region's 56 state championship slots Saturday at East Hamilton, but Soddy-Daisy got 13, including a school-record eight champions and one runner-up.
The Trojans set a Region 4 scoring record with 292 points, which was 102.5 points beyond runner-up Ooltewah. Central was third with 122.5 and Red Bank was fourth with 107. Fifth-place Hixson had 103.5.
"The most champions we ever had previously was six," Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. "It was a solid team effort that came after that disappointing loss last week [to Bradley Central for the state duals championship]. This team had never quit, and I reminded them of it every day this week."
Henry's champions included 130-pound Campbell Lewis, who was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler. He was joined by Jonah Smith (103), Jacob Stevens (112), Jacob Adams (135), Turbo Smith (152), Brett Ervin (189), Billy Swanson (215) and Alex Seeley (285).
"We were trying to regain some respect," Henry said. "Jonah had the flu and didn't practice all week. Stevens beat a kid that was undefeated; Lewis was strong, then Jacob Adams turned it on. And Turbo, Lord knows he was rattled after getting pinned last week, and he was the most complete wrestler this weekend that he has been all season. Brett had never been in a region tournament before, much less the No. 1 seed, and then Billy and Alex up top came through.
"Every member of this team scored points, and I think we did a pretty good job picking up bonus points."
In their 53 matches, the Trojans got 30 pins, two technical falls, three major decisions and a forfeit -- 69.7 percent of their total wins.
Other champions were Notre Dame's Jack Boone (119), Central's Cody Stacks (125), Ooltewah's Stuart Doss (140) and Goose Manning (171), Red Bank's Logan Sharp (145) and Signal Mountain's Brock Pressley (160).
Ooltewah had nine state qualifiers. Hixson, Signal Mountain and Notre Dame had five apiece, and Central, East Ridge and Red Bank had four each. East Hamilton had three, Tyner had two and Sale Creek and Silverdale Baptist had one apiece.
"The field this region is advancing to the state is solid, and I think it can stand toe-to-toe with any," Henry said. "East Ridge could be called the team of the tournament, and what about Central's rebirth? And you have to mention Tyner, Brainerd and Howard. It has to be hats off to all the coaches in this region."
Brad Laxton is in his first season as East Ridge's coach but has been in the area the last three or four years.
"This region is tough and getting tougher. A lot of people have to go a long way to get the type competition we have in our own back yard," he said.
Best-match trophies went to 125-pound finalists Stacks and Tyler Harvey of Ooltewah.
n Upsets: Hixson's Gary Cosey, the top seed at 140 pounds, was down by a couple of points with time running out and got disqualified for flagrant misconduct for too much "oomph" behind a cross-face against Ooltewah's Doss in the championship semifinals. ... Soddy-Daisy's Blaike Henry, second-seeded at 171 pounds, lost to Sale Creek's Nathan Davis 8-7, also in the semis. Davis, who pinned two opponents Friday, improved to 32-2 with the win and wound up finishing second and earning his first trip to the state.
All three wrestlers who entered the tournament with unbeaten records are no longer unbeaten. Tyner 112-pound DeAngelo James, Signal Mountain's 135-pound Logan Henley and Hixson's 160-pound Justin Mathieson lost their championship finals matches. James was 40-0 when he lost, Henley was 33-0 and Mathieson, coming off knee surgery, was 10-0.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...
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