published Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Trojans win D-I state wrestling title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Soddy-Daisy's nightmare has been put to bed forever.

The Trojans on Saturday erased a recurring night-sweats dream as vivid as sleeping in Elm Street's last house on the left and Freddie Krueger slipping in the door with a Texas chainsaw. They did so by clinching Tennessee's Division I wrestling championship with a strong flurry in Friday's quarterfinal and semifinal rounds and continuing through the medal rounds Saturday.

"I was up at 4 o'clock this morning," Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. "Couldn't sleep. I was stressing, but every one of our guys wrestled tough. Yes, we had some disappointments and we lost some tough matches, but each of them had a time when he had to do a character check and came through with flying colors. A couple of those rounds, all of them scored bonus points."

A year ago, Soddy-Daisy led after two days of competition and went into the medal rounds with the lead. Cleveland stepped up, though, slipped past Soddy-Daisy and Bradley Central and claimed its first traditional state title since 1994.

Soddy-Daisy finished with 223 points, 43 better than Cleveland, and the Chattanooga area wound up again with the top three spots as Bradley held off Pigeon Forge and Clarksville to finish third with 115. Notre Dame placed ninth with 80 points and Central just missed the top 20, scoring 43.5 points to place 21st.

"At the end of the day Soddy-Daisy was the better team," Cleveland coach Eric Phillips said. "We threw everything we had at them, and they responded."

Almost as important to the Trojans' wrestling history was Campbell Lewis becoming Soddy-Daisy's first four-time champion. The senior fell behind on a four-point move less than 30 seconds into the match and yet tied the score before the first period ended. He gave up no more than an escape the rest of the way.

He was later diagnosed to have suffered a mild concussion.

"I was seeing stars after it happened, but I really think it was nerves," Lewis said.

As big as winning his fourth title was, Lewis was even more elated about Soddy-Daisy winning the team title.

"I got my third last year and we wound up third [as a team]. I was heartbroken," he said. "The fourth title means a lot, but I know how much the coaches and all the guys put into this effort, and what all of us did means so much."

Lewis said he was relieved in a way that it was over and the fourth title was headed for his trophy shelf.

"But I may be bawling tonight on the way home when I think about all the memories I have from the last four years," he said.

He was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler, while the best match was awarded to Independence's McCoy Newberg and the Trojans' Blaike Henry for their 170-pound bout. Newberg won 7-5.

Trojans joining Lewis with gold medals were Jacob Stevens (120), who got his second title, and Billy Swanson (220), who improved on last year's runner-up finish.

Cleveland champions were Chris DeBien (106) and Austin Stevison (113), and other winners from the Chattanooga area were Notre Dame's Jack Boone (126) and Grayson Mullin (145) and Bradley's Patrick Benson (285).

The last undefeated wrestler in Division I, Tyner's DeAngelo James, extended his streak to 41-0 and the state finals before losing in the championship bout to Stevison. The two scrambled before Stevison got the first takedown and then in another scramble took James straight to his back before getting the pin in just 49 seconds.

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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