Turbo Smith had one bowl of soup too many and yet managed to survive.
The Soddy-Daisy wrestler, top-seeded at 145 pounds, advanced to this afternoon's Region 4 wrestling championship round but only after pulling out a 6-4 victory over Tyner's Antonio Walton.
While Smith escaped an unwanted fate -- having to fight his way back through the consolations just to get into the state tournament, the 2011 state runner-up was more fortunate than fellow top seeds Chris Palacio (Red Bank, 106) and Jay Rudwall (Ooltewah, 220). They lost championship semifinal bouts to Soddy-Daisy's Austin Houser and Red Bank's Paul Horne, respectively.
The tournament resumes at 10 this morning with the third round of consolations, followed by the consolation semifinals. Championship matches are scheduled to begin at about 12:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person.
Palacio and Rudwall will be in the consolation semifinals.
"I have no pity for a guy who doesn't take an opponent seriously with qualifying for the state tournament on the line," Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. "You have to care with a kid like he had in the semis.
"Turbo was lucky to hold on to win. Walton came right at him and gave him all he wanted. That's characteristic of Tyner wrestlers, and I told [Tyner coach] Wayne Turner he was to be congratulated for bringing that program back."
Rudwall entered the tournament with a 27-1 record and pinned his first opponent midway of the second period. The Tennessee Tech football signee ran into perfect timing in his semifinal bout with Horne, who entered the tournament with a 10-20 record and six of those wins by forfeit.
"Rudwall was shooting for a high-crotch and Paul caught him with a lateral drop. It was perfectly thrown with perfect timing and a perfect finish," Red Bank coach Ben Reichel said. "It is probably the most surprised I've been in my entire coaching career."
Horne sat out almost all of last year with an injury, but he is no newcomer to region pressure. He lost a close one to Hixson's Christian Varner in the 2010 region semis, and Varner is the man he'll wrestle for the championship.
Horne's win deflected the sting of Palacio's upset.
"This is the first time he's been down at 106, and we underestimated the effect the weight cut would have on him and the competition," Reichel said. "That first-round match was a tough draw and I can't figure out why [Houser] wasn't seeded. He was ranked earlier in the season."
Houser is a freshman and has struggled at times as he learned the adjustments from middle high to high school, but Henry said he had a wrestler with a solid foundation with which to work.
"There's no doubt that that win was the biggest in his career," Henry said. "We've been working all along to get him where he needs to be, but Rabbit Turner deserves a lot of credit. He does our middle school program, and he has them ready when they get to us to help them move along to the next level."
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 ...