Jim Higgins was a happy man Saturday.
The Soddy-Daisy wrestling coach's son Quentin was out of the house for the first time since his birth, and his first trip was to a tournament where 10 Trojans qualified for this week's state tournament.
With seven Region 4 champions and a runner-up in the meet at Ooltewah, the Soddy-Daisy wrestlers gave the coach his first traditional region title.
He downplayed it.
"It's better to have one than none, but I'm feeling good that we moved forward in a positive way as a group," he said.
The Trojans scored 224.5 points to 173.5 for runner-up Hixson. East Ridge was third with 158 points, Central was fourth with 116 and Signal Mountain rounded out the top five with 114.5.
The primary purpose for all 17 Region 4 teams was to qualify individuals for the state meet with the top four in each of the 14 weight classes advancing. Soddy-Daisy led the way with its 10. Hixson got nine, East Ridge seven, Central and Signal Mountain six apiece, Ooltewah five and Notre Dame four.
Howard, East Ridge and Chattanooga Christian qualified three each, and Tyner advanced one.
The Division I state tournament begins Thursday afternoon in Franklin.
While he was delighted about several things, Higgins seemed most pleased by what he saw from the Trojans, saying they looked and acted like their early-season team rather than the one that finished third in the state duals last weekend.
"The kids fought for each other, and I'm extremely elated with the outcome," he said. "It's different faces, but we looked like we did at the first of the season. For us it's about here and now and what's to come rather than what's in the past."
The Trojans' seven champions were Austin Houser (113 pounds), tournament most outstanding wrestler Jacob Stevens (120), best-match participant Tucker Russo (126), Austin Williamson (138), Gage Richmond (145), Garrett Alexander (170) and Blaike Henry (182).
East Ridge and Notre Dame were the only other teams with more than one winner. The Pioneers' champions were Brandon Cantrell (195), C.J. Baker (220) and Will Garner (285), while Luke Mullin (106) and Michael Labbe (160) were Notre Dame titlists.
Central's Larry Dickerson (152) and Ooltewah's Matt Lemons (132) were the other champs.
Hixson's nine qualifiers included three runners-up and four third-place finishers.
"It's the most we have taken in a long time, and one that wasn't seeded at all finished fourth," coach Garrick Hall said. "We could very easily have qualified 10 or 11."
Hall said Soddy-Daisy performed as he expected.
"They're a solid team," he said. "We tried to keep it close, and we gave them as much of a run as we could."
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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