There are still team championships to be had, but the emphasis in Tennessee high school wrestling shifts this weekend from "we" to "me."
Soddy-Daisy and Central, which won state duals team championships last weekend, will be among the heaviest of movers and shakers when the Region 4 wrestling tournament takes place Friday and Saturday at Soddy-Daisy.
The tournament will be held at the high school rather than the wrestling arena to accommodate three mats.
Friday's session, which will carry through semifinals, begins at 5:30 p.m. following 4 p.m. weigh-ins. Saturday weigh-ins are at 9 a.m. with wrestling beginning at 10 It is estimated that the championship finals will begin at 12:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person each day.
"Soddy-Daisy is going to win it just on the sheer number of top seeds," said Hixson coach Garrick Hall, whose team finished third in last weekend's A/AA state duals.
The Trojans have seven wrestlers top-seeded, and coaches expect nine total to reach the finals. Soddy-Daisy's top seeds are Jacob Stevens (120 pounds), Campbell Lewis (132), Gage Richmond (138), Turbo Smith (145), Blaike Henry (170), Brett Ervin (182) and Alex Seeley (285).
Other No. 1s are Red Bank's Chris Palacio, who'll be getting his first action this season as a 106-pounder, and Logan Sharp (152); Tyner's DeAngelo James, the 113-pounder who is the only unbeaten (35-0) competitor in the field; Notre Dame's Jack Boone (126); Ooltewah's Jay Rudwall (220); and Signal Mountain's Tyler Montgomery (195).
"I also noticed a few 'Entries' listed for Soddy," Hall said. "I don't know what Coach [Steve] Henry is up to. I didn't see [former state champion Jonah] Smith in there anywhere, but regardless, the ones he has listed are going to generate a lot of points."
Soddy-Daisy is the defending champion.
"I still like winning those region trophies," Henry said. "It is a benchmark for the program, and it gives you an idea of where your program really stands."
The Trojans coach was eager to get away from the coaches' meeting to get practice under way, and what he had in mind was a packed two hours of drills.
"We're not where we need to be," Henry said. "We wrestled poorly this past weekend and managed to win in spite of it, and I guess I'd rather win and look bad rather than lose and look good. I could tell Friday and Saturday that we had a lot of improving to do before this weekend."
So if Soddy-Daisy is indeed the clear-cut No. 1, then who's No. 2?
"I told my team our goal should be to beat Central," Hall said. "But I think Central, Hixson, East Ridge and Notre Dame all could be fighting for No. 2. It's up for grabs. We beat East Ridge by one or two and Notre Dame by one, and East Ridge and Notre Dame also were close to Central. Looking at the way we finished the [dual meet] year, you'd think it would be Central No. 2, us No. 3 and Notre Dame and East Ridge battling for No. 4, but East Ridge and Notre Dame can generate a lot of points."
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 16-18 at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo in Franklin.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.
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 ...