It's hard to gauge the team strength of the Halls Invitational wrestling tournament in Knoxville, but winning by 68.5 points there over runner-up Bradley Central gives Wilson Central reason to boast heading into the Division I state duals Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Franklin.
Other Chattanooga-area teams in the 16-team field last weekend were ninth-place Red Bank, 12th-place Ooltewah and 13th-place East Hamilton.
The Wilson Wildcats' lone dual-meet loss of the season was 38-34 at Division II power Baylor on Dec. 28. The Red Raiders are the only area team they've faced in dual competition.
When asked if they were legitimate state duals or traditional state contenders, Ooltewah coach Wendell Weathers responded, "Yes, especially the duals."
Bradley's Ben Smith agreed.
"We'd have a tough time dualing with them. They're solid from top to bottom with no real hole that I saw," he said. "If Cleveland or Soddy-Daisy had a bad day, it's very possible."
Area individual winners at Halls were Bradley's Ryan McElhaney (106), Toribio Navarro (113) and Knox Fuller (120).
Semi-unknowns to watch in the traditional AAA regional at Walker Valley and the A/AA traditional region at Hixson include East Hamilton's Briar Potter (106), Red Bank's Trent Comeaux (106) and Devin Crawl (170), Bradley's Hunter Parker (126) and Ooltewah's Mack Fairley (195) and Jacob Keltch (285).
Trojans rise in state poll
Soddy-Daisy climbed back into the top five in the Tennessee high school coaches' poll, coming in at No. 5 behind Cleveland, Father Ryan, Baylor and Wilson Central.
The Trojans swapped places with Bradley following their win over the Bears last week. McCallie is seventh, followed by Montgomery Bell Academy, Ravenwood and Walker Valley. Blackman is 11th and Christian Brothers 12th. Hixson was among other teams receiving votes.
Soddy-Daisy went 5-0 at the Christian Brothers Duals over the weekend. The Trojans' closest match was 47-24 over the hosts, and their largest margin of victory was 72-12 over Cordova. Austin Houser, Garrett Alexander, Tyler Hixson and Hunter Maynor led the way with five victories each.
Cleveland, Soddy-Daisy, Bradley and Walker Valley will compete in the Region 3-AAA duals Thursday at Ooltewah. Cleveland meets Bradley and Soddy-Daisy takes on Walker Valley in semifinals at 7 p.m. The championship match is scheduled for 8:30.
Tornado 4th at Prep Slam
Father Ryan won the Southeastern Prep Slam in Atlanta with 232 points, while McCallie was fourth behind Lake Highland Prep from Florida and New York's St. Anthony's Academy.
The Blue Tornado had two champions: Adam Connell (138) and Nathan Hoodenpyle (182). James Westbrooks (126) was a runner-up and Ethan Dendy (120) and Jay Roberts (220) placed fifth.
The annual Baylor-McCallie meet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at McCallie.
There is now some talk of McCallie also hosting the first-ever Division II East/Middle traditional state qualifier on Feb. 8. It was first thought that Baylor would host a one-day mini-tournament, but that now is up in the air because small school coaches didn't like the idea of seeding the top four wrestlers in each weight class and then having everybody else wrestle for the fifth and sixth spots. At last word, the tournament's fate was in the hands of the participating schools' athletic directors.
UTC's Eslinger nears 3rd
Now in his fifth season as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach, Heath Eslinger has a record of 56-35 and is one win from tying Ethan Reeve for third on the school's all-time victory list.
UTC is 11-5 heading into Wednesday evening's Southern Conference meet at The Citadel.
Reeve, now strength and conditioning coach at Wake Forest, had a 57-38-2 record in six years with the Mocs (1985-90). Jim Morgan (1969-83) leads at 209-70-3. Andy Nardo (1953-68) is second at 77-30-4.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...