published Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Still no showers, but idea not dead

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Shower facilities at the state wrestling tournament may have moved from impossible dream.

Coaches previously have asked the TSSAA to look into the possibility of having portable showers at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo, perhaps because of the facility’s dirt floor, which is covered with carpet.

“The cost was thousands and thousands of dollars, and it was something that isn’t practical for hundreds of athletes,” said Mark Reeves, TSSAA assistant executive director.

However, that doesn’t mean the state association is giving up on the idea. There is a truck stop nearby with showers, and there now is talk of shuttling athletes there. Then it was suggested that the TSSAA check with the U.S. Marine Corps, which is one of the tournament sponsors and may have access to portable facilities.

And it isn’t in the works yet, but there are those who think Williamson County might help foot a bill to put permanent shower facilities at the Ag Expo.

‘Buzz’ about expansion

There seemed to be an added excitement in the arena.

“There’s a buzz this year – just today even – that I haven’t experienced since we have been in this facility, and I think a lot of it is the addition of the A/AA division,” Reeves said. “I’m excited about where wrestling is right now.”

Coming a long way

Bruce and Alice Connell, the uncle and aunt of McCallie senior Adam Connell, made a rather lengthy road trip to see their nephew wrestle for his third state championship.

Longtime coach Gordon Connell’s brother and sister-in-law left Friday morning from Valentine, Neb., and drove all that day, most of the night and part of Saturday. They were leaving as soon as his match at 138 pounds was over.

Half-century ago

It was 50 years ago that East Ridge claimed its first state wrestling champion.

Charlie Goss, who was working the head table at this tournament with his wife Carol, won that title as a heavyweight.

A member of the Tennessee chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Goss has served the sport in a number of capacities including youth coach, middle school coach, high school assistant and referee.

Extending sympathy

Wayne Turner, an institution at Tyner as the Rams’ football and wrestling coach, got a call from home Friday before the A/AA state tournament got under way.

It was his mother, informing him that his father had died unexpectedly.

Point of interest

Christian Brothers’ win over McCallie in the state duals consolations two weeks ago was somewhat tainted because of a win by injury default after a penalty point.

It needs to be pointed out that Christian Brothers coach Chris Lewis argued for 10 minutes to get the call changed.

“I didn’t know there had been a penalty point,” he said Friday. “What I wanted to do was restart the match and then default.”

DII criticism

Few coaches in the East/Middle group of Division II were happy with the mandated new regional qualifier. Some wanted to seed the top four spots and let others wrestle for the final two to get into the state.

There also has been criticism of the wrestle-in for the eighth spot in the bracket and the reduction of the state field from 16 to eight.

“We left it to Division II schools to determine the qualifying format, and here we were three weeks from having the tournament and nothing was decided,” Reeves said.

The TSSAA offered to poll the 12 Division II East/Middle coaches, and the vote was 6-6.

“I have talked with a couple of coaches that were excited to have kids that were state qualifiers,” Reeves said.

It is all but etched in stone, though, that the DII schools will continue to have a qualifier.

“I don’t anticipate regulations changing,” Reeves said.

One suggestion would be for all the schools within the region to wrestle each other during the season and then seed wrestlers from those results.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

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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