The Region 3 wrestling seeding meeting earlier this week was perhaps the smoothest in history.
"Everyone knew where wrestlers should [be listed] in the brackets," Walker Valley coach Alan Morris said. "In the past the Knoxville teams have stayed in the Knoxville area. This year there were more head-to-head [matches] and more common opponents."
They refine their seeding criteria each year and then adhere to it, but it could be that this year there was little to argue.
Cleveland enters the tournament as the landslide favorite, earning top-four seeds for all 14 of its wrestlers.
Derailing the Blue Raiders express seems highly doubtful.
"What's the old saying? 'If their bus breaks down and they miss weigh-ins?' The fight is for second place," Morris said, "and if we wrestle to our seeds or better, we can be in the thick of that race."
While the Region 3 tournament at William Blount in Maryville today and Saturday is all but in the barn, the same might not be so for the Region 4 tournament at Ooltewah.
Yes, Soddy-Daisy has seven top-seeded wrestlers, but other competitors remember well the 2009 tournament when Hixson slipped in the back door and won the event by a single point.
"If Soddy-Daisy had those three kids [that were dismissed from the team last week], there's no way anybody would touch them," Hixson coach Garrick Hall said. "As it is they have seven No. 1 seeds, but tournaments like this are unique, and if Soddy-Daisy doesn't come to wrestle there could be a new champion."
He pointed to East Ridge and his Wildcats as potential championship candidates.
"I'm hoping we'll make it interesting, and I think East Ridge has a shot just because of their horses up top," he said.
The Region 4 tournament begins at 5:30 p.m. at Ooltewah; the Region 3 event at William Blount starts at 6. The top four place-winners in each advance to next week's state tournament in Franklin.
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 ...