published Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Morgan honored at state tournament

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Jim Morgan showed up Friday night thinking he would sit in the stands and watch his boys work toward another state championship.

"All I wanted to do was see the semifinals," the former Baylor coach said.

Instead, Morgan was introduced to a capacity crowd and received plaques for being honored as the National Wrestling Coaches Association state, regional and national coach of the year.

Morgan retired last year after 25 seasons at Baylor in which the Red Raiders won nine traditional state titles and six dual championships. He left with a dual-meet record of 539-84-1.

Also recognized was former Brentwood wrestler Cameron Croy, a three-time state champion now wrestling at Harvard. Croy was a three-time state champion and his parents received plaques for him for being named state and regional wrestler of the year.

No re-draw for DII

Breaking with a practice that has been in effect since 1999, the TSSAA would not re-draw Division II brackets affected by illness and no-shows.

"It creates a nightmare and it is anything but fan-friendly," TSSAA assistant Mark Reeves said. "If you stop and think about it, every published piece of material suddenly becomes useless. And when you start changing brackets the only people that know what's going on are those with updated brackets."

McCallie 135-pounder Alex Kent was one of those wrestlers unable to go Friday. The junior was still sidelined from a concussion suffered in the state duals two weeks ago.

"We're doing the [concussion] impact testing, but on top of that he tried to practice one day and started throwing up," Blue Tornado coach Mike Newman said. "We're not going to take any chances."

A number of Division II wrestlers were hit with flulike symptoms earlier this week.

33 and counting

There are 33 referees working the tournaments this year, an increase of seven over previous years.

"We wanted to make sure we were covered with the addition of double-elimination in Division I," said Mike Parker, who is in charge of referees for the TSSAA and also serves as the Division I tournament matchmaker.

Too, there have been two referees on every mat, one actually working the match and another as a mat assistant.

"The mat assistants don't come into play very often, but when they do it's usually in a crucial situation," Parker said.

The mat assistants are particularly invaluable as a second set of eyes for technical violations such as locked hands and on illegal holds.

Referees receive $350 for the weekend's work, and they average 42 matches per man. That's an average of $8.33 per match, meaning the TSSAA has an expense of about $11,550 for referees excluding mileage, motels and meals.

A/AA in 2013?

Expecting another proposal for a Class A/AA state tournament, Reeves said Friday that if approved by the Board of Control it would likely be 2013 before the split from AAA was implemented.

"I would be hesitant to recommend it before then, and I think the board would be prefer to be consistent in all sports across the board, and this is a classification issue," he said.

An early look would indicate that an enrollment of 900 or less would put a school in the A/AA tournament.

Mocs signee a no-show

Blackman's Michael Kennedy, a 215-pounder who signed with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga during the early signing period last fall, was a no-show here this weekend.

Kennedy injured a knee early and hasn't wrestled since, but reports are that he still plans to be with the Mocs next season, probably at 197 pounds.

Techno age

Some wrestling coaches have found a new way to use their cell phones.

They're no longer just sitting in their pockets.

Rather than trying to keep up with wrestlers and their match numbers by hands, several have taken to writing out a list and then making a picture with their phone. They have an instant and easy access list for reference.

"That's not lazy," Newman said. "It's the technology age. So why not take advantage of it?"

That's well and good for some, although Gordon Connell, his co-head coach, still prefers the handwritten method. Connell may not text but at least he does have a cell phone.

Baylor assistant Schaack Van Deusen, at least a fourth-decade veteran of the sport, hasn't succumbed yet to either.

"Don't have one and won't have one," he said. "Now, I will borrow one if I'm going on a long trip, but leave me a message. I do return phone calls."

about Ward Gossett...

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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