There were two ways Wendell Weathers could've looked at his wrestling team's opening night Tuesday.
The Ooltewah coach was anything but satisfied and had a fistful of match notes he'd scribbled to share with the Owls this afternoon. Yet he survived opening night unscathed and locked up the gym only after notching the first pair of scratch marks into the 2012-13 win column.
"I was somewhat pleased, but the whole night was really, really ugly, which is consistent with an early season match," Weathers said following his team's 47-28 and 42-33 victories over Red Bank and Tyner.
Red Bank, beating Tyner 46-18, left with the program's first above-.500 mark in Ben Reichel's five-year tenure intact. The Lions were coming off a 3-2 weekend at the Heritage Duals and got a split Tuesday.
They did it with a less experienced team than Reichel had envisioned near the conclusion of last season. He parted ways with two former state medalists who would have boosted his senior numbers to three this year.
"It's a fresh start with a young group, a good group," Reichel said.
The Lions have lone senior Devonte Clark (120) leading a group with no juniors, two sophomores and 10 freshmen in the lineup.
Ooltewah also is young but shorthanded as well, missing bodies at 106, 113 and 120 pounds.
"This is the youngest we've ever been -- two seniors, a junior and everything else sophomores and freshmen -- but I really think there's a lot of promise," Weathers said. "We just haven't been able to get the little guys out."
Tyner is close to fielding a full team and used the forfeits to make its Ooltewah match close. Key performers were Tony Walton (160) and Kelcey Smith (138).
"Both of those guys looked pretty good, although Tony wrestled just one match," Rams coach Wayne Turner said. "Kelcey looked good in both matches. He was real aggressive."
Turner was a little frustrated with 106-pound Deelandis White, who went 1-1 with a forfeit.
"He could be good but he wants to think sometimes it's just going to happen. He's confident," the coach said. "Tonight he got brought down a notch or two."
Ooltewah will host the annual Keith Johnson memorial tournament this weekend. Junior varsity wrestling is Friday and the varsity tournament is a one-day event that begins early Saturday morning. The championship finals are expected to start around 4 p.m.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ...
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