The first day of the Region 2-A/AA wrestling tournament wrapped up Friday night with the host Hixson Wildcats atop the leaderboard with 54.5 points.
Hixson began with a pin from 132-pounder Grayson Layne to the delight of fans shouting, "Good start!" The fall set the pace for the Wildcats, who put 12 of their 14 wresters into the championship semifinals, scoring bonus points in 11 matches.
"You just have to keep wrestling and keep rolling," Hixson coach Garrick Hall said. "It's their tournament. It's individual and you have to want it."
An impressive East Ridge squad is nipping at Hixon's heels with 53 points. The Pioneers' total includes a semifinal win at heavyweight in the only semifinal bout wrestled Friday. Under the leadership of first-year head coach Chris Bird, the Pioneers will begin day two with 12 of their 13 wrestlers still competing.
Bird said his team will have to wrestle well on the back side of the bracket to give Hixson a run.
"[Our wrestlers] came out a little cold, but the guys wrestled as well as they could," he said. "They need to compete tomorrow. Tournaments are won and lost in consolation matches."
Rounding out the top five are Red Bank (41 points), Chattanooga Central (38.5) and Tyner (33 points).
Red Bank came into the tournament with only 10 wrestlers, but nine of them are moving on to the semifinals.
"We've had our best two weeks of preparation, and it showed tonight," Lions coach Shane Turner said. "They're going to beat us on depth, not quality. I don't see why we can't put nine guys into the state tournament."
All of the tournament's top seeds advanced into the championship semifinals, as day one of the area's first A/AA regional ever was short on drama, but today could provide fireworks as state qualifiers along with a tightly contested team race will be decided.
Wrestling resumes this morning at 10 with the championship semifinals. The finals are scheduled to be wrestled at 2:30 p.m. with the top four wrestlers advancing to the first A/AA traditional state tournament next week.
Contact Idris Garcia at 423-757-6273 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.