The roll that coach Jim Higgins feared had abandoned his Soddy-Daisy wrestling team was back in full force Saturday.
"We had a lot of positives. The break did them some good," he said after the Trojans won their own Soddy-Daisy Showdown. "We're having a good time doing what we're doing."
Following the pre-Christmas McCallie Invitational, Higgins felt the team was sluggish. He gave the Trojans several off days, and they responded by rolling up 189.5 points in their tournament.
McCallie finished second with 168.5, easily outdistancing third-place Maryville Heritage, which had 137. Hewitt from Trussville, Ala., was fourth with 120 and Bradley Central was fifth with 99.5
Walker Valley and Pigeon Forge tied for sixth with 91, followed by Dobyns-Bennett (68), Cookeville 56, Brentwood and Cordova (55), Science Hill (54.5), Independence (49), Oakland (48), Gibbs (46.5), Notre Dame (43.5), Tullahoma (35) and Rhea County (20).
Soddy-Daisy's champions were Jacob Stevens (120), Turbo Smith (152) and Branndon Hunt (160)
McCallie's Addison Cornell (106), Adam Connell (132) and Griffin Davis (138), Tullahoma's Devan Cyree (113), Pigeon Forge's Joseph Dodgen (126) and Nate Crowley (145), Maryville Heritage's Keagan Matlock (170) and Jeb Davis (220), Hewitt's Marcus Elkins (182), Dobyns-Bennett's Bryson Begley (195) and Oakland heavyweight Jeff Benson were the other champs.
Cyree was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler following a 48-second pin in the championship finals, and the best match was at 126 pounds with Dodgen decisioning Soddy-Daisy's Tucker Russo 9-6.
A match that could just as easily have been selected the tournament's best was the 120-pound battle of state champions Stevens and McCallie's Alex Elsea.
"It was exciting. Scary," Higgins said. "I think my heart stopped three times during that one."
Elsea jumped ahead early, but the two were tied at 10 at the end of the second period. A two-time state titlist, Stevens put it away with five unanswered third-period points.
"It was a barn-burner," McCallie coach Mike Newman said. "It was a match everybody was looking forward to seeing, and they didn't disappoint. They went all out. I think both of them had to fight off their backs at least once."
Stevens characteristically loves to force the issue, and Elsea was ready to answer.
"That's one thing about Jacob. You don't have to question his desire," Higgins said. "He goes hard for six minutes, and he's always looking for bonus points."
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 ...