If the Hixson wrestling team was going to get hit by a flu bug, coach Garrick Hall probably could not have been happier with the timing.
The Wildcats, who secured their trip to next week's A/AA state duals tournament in Franklin with a win last Friday at Signal Mountain, used only the remnants of a varsity lineup Tuesday night at East Ridge, and the Pioneers won 63-18.
Hall had only two regular starters in the lineup. Five were out with the flu and the others were given a match off from making weight. Still, he was determined to fill every weight class.
"If I hadn't brought these two varsity guys I wouldn't have been able to fill a full lineup, and I wasn't going to do that to East Ridge," he said.
While Hixson has reserved its rooms for the state duals, East Ridge has not. The Pioneers have a home district meet Friday against Notre Dame with the winner advancing to Franklin. That meet begins at 6.
"We know that was not Hixson's varsity squad," said East Ridge coach Chad Laxton, whose team improved to 23-7. "You hope the kids come in tomorrow and approach practice like they did yesterday."
A solid Pioneers practice Monday was evident Tuesday. Ten of their 11 wins came via pin, and seven of those were in the first period. The 10 pins were a season high.
"I didn't know what to expect with it being their JV, but when you win like that it's hard not to be happy," Laxton said.
The match took just 41 minutes thanks in part to first-minute pins from Brandon Whitley (120 pounds), Justin Hitchcock (132), Robert McAvoy (138), Kendall Small (152), Nakota Culver (182), Brandon Cantrell (195) and C.J. Baker (220). Whitley and Small tied for the quickest pin, each requiring just 27 seconds. Other wins for the Pioneers, who won East Hamilton's Hurricane Invitational a couple of weeks ago, came from Spencer Griffy (126), Joshua Kilgore (145), DeAngelo Johnson (170) and Will Garner (285).
"It's a good momentum-builder for Friday," Laxton said.
Hixson got forfeit victories for Konner Zeigler (106) and Travis Robinson (113) and a pin from Tarik Twitty (170) to secure its 18 points.
"It was beneficial as far as next week because some of those [JV] guys will be going with us," Hall said.
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 ...