FRANKLIN, Tenn.—It looked like the three-team race has been reduced by one.
Going into the point-producing championship semifinals, Cleveland was hanging close and nipping at the heels of both defending champion Bradley Central and Soddy-Daisy.
Following those semifinals, the latter two had separated themselves and were looking at a tooth-and-nail battle for the TSSAA Division I state wrestling championship.
And Cleveland, after losing its first two championship semifinal matches—both to Soddy-Daisy—reeled off nine straight wins and was threatening to put 11 wrestlers in the medals.
Soddy-Daisy led with 184 points, Bradley was second with 174.5 and Cleveland had 151.
The Trojans took the lead with a record-setting semis performance, doubling their previous best all-time by placing six in the championship finals.
"This is the most outstanding round we have ever had, but I'm not about to get excited about anything," Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. "I'm thinking right now about keeping as many alive as we can."
Soddy-Daisy's championship finalists are Jonah Smith (103), Jacob Stevens (112), Campbell Lewis (130), Turbo Smith (152), Blaike Henry (171) and Billy Swanson (215). Representing Bradley Central in the finals are Tyler Schuch (135), Brad Colbaugh (152), Tucker Bolton (215) and Patrick Benson (285).
Cleveland's finalists are University of Tennessee at Chattanooga signee Marvin Lopez (135), who'll be seeking his second state title in three finals trips, Aaron Lopez (140) and Jesse Jones (189).
The only other Chattanooga-area finalist is Notre Dame 119-pounder Jack Boone.
The tournament resumes at 11 a.m. with consolation semifinals and third- and fifth-place medal matches. Championship finals begin at 7 p.m.
Soddy-Daisy was Friday night's tournament tale.
"As a team we are not competing as we can," Bradley coach Steve Logsdon said. "You have to win the close matches, exceed expectations. They're doing and it we're not."
Cleveland was having to try to work its way back into the battle the hard way—through the consolations.
"We're a young, tough team. I told the guys they were going to face some guys who might be a little older and a little stronger," Blue Raiders coach Eric Phillips said. "These guys are wrestling to get their names on the wall and maybe in the meanwhile give us a shot at a state championship."
The anticipated battle between Soddy-Daisy's Lewis and Franklin's Austin Woods was all it was built to be. They went scoreless in the first but then Lewis, a two-time defending state champion, got an escape and followed up immediately with a head throw and three-point near fall. He led 6-0 going into the third period. Woods immediately got a reversal to get within 6-2. Campbell wound up in his third state final, 8-4.
Goose Manning, Ooltewah's lone semifinalist, lost 5-4 but gave it all he had. The senior went from the hospital where he had been receiving IVs straight to the Williamson County Agricultural Center.
"He's hasn't been able to hold anything since Wednesday, but then he started throwing up earlier today and was really weak," Owls coach Wendell Weathers said.
Manning was alive in the consolation rounds.
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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