Two years ago in the region wrestling tournament, Soddy-Daisy had a half-dozen first-round byes, which cost them potential bonus points. The Trojans lost the title to Hixson by a half-point.
The Trojans faced a similar situation Friday in the Region 4 tournament at East Hamilton and found themselves mired in fifth place with a measly 14.5 points after the first round.
They roared back in the quarterfinals -- picking up bonus points in all but one of their wins -- to take the first-day lead with 73.5 points, 10.5 better than second-place Central, which won the A/AA state duals championship in Franklin last week. Ooltewah's 60.5 points was good for third place, 13 points better than fourth-place Red Bank.
The tournament resumes at 10 a.m. with a second round of consolations. The all-important championship semifinals, which will secure a first- or second-place finish for the winners, are expected to begin shortly after 11 a.m. Those reaching this afternoon's championship finals will have secured a berth in next week's traditional state tournament at Franklin.
"'Those first-round byes are a headache. We only had four first-round matches," said Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry. "We picked up a bunch of bonus points in the second round, which helped tremendously."
One of the Trojans' biggest wins was by 125-pound Gage Richmond, who pinned Hixson senior Logan Vandergriff, the weight class's No. 4 seed.
"A big win for us," Henry said. "Logan is a tough kid."
A freshman, Richmond didn't cement his role in the Trojans' lineup until this week.
Central was among the early leaders and managed to stay close to the Trojans.
"I told the guys that this was one of the two toughest regions in the state," Purple Pounders coach Steve Price said. "We have 13 guys alive. We had a good first round, absolutely. Our guys know that pins can win tournaments."
One Pounder who gave Price a pleasant surprise was Logan Griffith, who knocked off No. 4 seed Corey Mitchell of Sequatchie County.
"It was a big win for him. The guy had beat him twice earlier this year," Price said.
Ooltewah was standing strong as well.
"I'm pleased," Owls coach Wendell Weathers said. "We didn't have any surprises, and that's a good thing, but we dropped a couple I thought we might could steal."
The pressure goes up today with four state tournament berths on the line in each weight class.
"We're looking forward to it, but there aren't enough spaces available," Weathers said. "A lot of quality wrestlers aren't going to be going to the state."
• Other upsets: Whitwell's unsung Devin Kilgore posted a first-round major decision and then pinned Central's second-seeded Larry Dickerson in 4:34. It was the only upset of a wrestler coaches had seeded to the championship finals. Howard's fourth-seeded Cedrick Ricks gave up four points late to Central's Cody Bowman and got pinned with 11 seconds left in their match.
• Penalties: Ricks cost his team a point by throwing his headgear, but teammate Courtney Clay (145) got pinned and was then ejected from the tournament for flagrant misconduct. It cost the Tigers the six points he had earned plus any points he might have picked up in the consolations. East Hamilton's 145-pound Chansler Williamson got pinned and then cost his team a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
• Other notes: The first day's quickest technical fall and fastest pin came in the 119-pound weight class. Notre Dame's Jack Boone got an 18-1 tech of Howard's Tyson Jones as the first-period buzzer sounded, and Hixson's Isaiah Hawthorne pinned Chattanooga Christian's Nate Young in 19 seconds. Soddy-Daisy 119-pound Kyle Eustice wasn't too far behind Boone, earning his tech win in 2:38.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.