Brother Martin wrestlers loaded the bus around 8 p.m. Saturday, but most would agree that enduring the eight-hour ride home was worth it.
In what will be recalled as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, the New Orleans guys got to see some of the best college wrestling in the country before winning the Soddy-Daisy Showdown championship over some of the finest high school teams Tennessee has to offer.
"We were looking for an out-of-town trip, and we had seen some extremely tough wrestlers from the Chattanooga area at the [summertime freestyle] Dixie Duals," coach Robert Dauterive said.
Then they figured out that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was hosting the likes of national powers Penn State, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Cornell and Missouri among others in the Southern Scuffle.
It was a trip they couldn't refuse.
"We've been here since New Year's Day. Seeing the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals at the Scuffle and then wrestling in this tournament -- it was no contest," Dauterive said.
Brother Martin won the 20-team one-day showdown with 217.5 points, brushing past Tennessee powers Cleveland, McCallie and Soddy-Daisy. Runner-up Cleveland had 190.5 points to 173.5 for McCallie and 159.5 for the host Trojans.
Walker Valley rounded out the top five with 125.5 points, while Hewitt of Trussville, Ala. was the only other team to break the century mark with 107.5 points.
Individual champions were Aaron Carter (Cordova/103), Addison Cornell (McCallie/112), Ethan Dendy (120/McCallie), Chris Debien (125/Cleveland), Paul Klein (130/Brother Martin), Adam Connell (135/McCallie), Luke Hamilton (Brentwood/145), Mason Williams (152/Brother Martin), Fred Denson (160/Trussville Hewitt), Josh Hamilton (170/Cleveland), Yehia Riles (182/Brother Martin), Ethan West (195/Cleveland), Micah Pressley (220/Signal Mountain) and Jeff Benson (Oakland/285).
"It was a fantastic tournament with great competition," host coach Jim Higgins said.
The Trojans made a run, getting five to the championship finals, but were shut out of first-place hardware.
"Our guys wrestled well and had a good showing against a very competitive field," Higgins said. "The finals did not turn out as we would have liked, but it isn't a concern. We're just in the middle of the season."
Cleveland's Debien and West won the lower- and upper-weight outstanding wrestler trophies, and best match awards went to Klein and Cleveland's Austin Stevison at 132 and Riles and McCallie's Nathan Hoodenpyle at 182.
• At Central, Blackman won the Central Invitational going away, scoring 196 points. Red Bank was second with 119 and Central was third with 101.5. Tyner placed fourth with 75 followed by Harpeth (72), Whitwell (62), Brainerd (50), Chattanooga Christian (18) and Silverdale Baptist Academy (14).
Individual champions were Trent Comeaux (105/Red Bank), Daniel Winters (112/Blackman), Cody Baugh (120/Red Bank), Michael Brobeck (125/Blackman), Ayinde Bakar (130/Blackman), Tyler Christian (Harpeth/125), Matthew Sells (145/Blackman), Austin Bishop (152/Blackman), Robert Perry (160/Red Bank), Devin Crawl (170/Red Bank), Jacob Brown (182/Blackman), Truman Martin (195/Central), Dalton Cantrell (220/Blackman) and Austin Wells (285/Blackman).
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.