Hixson High School moved a step closer to another state wrestling duals berth Tuesday with a forfeit-aided 55-15 victory at Red Bank.
The Wildcats (19-5) got 30 points on forfeit wins in five weight classes.
"We wrestled flat in spots. We weren't ready," Hixson coach Garrick Hall said. "It's hard to beat a team twice. We're so young in several places that it's hard to get them up. Red Bank has made massive improvements from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. It's a rising program."
Hixson thumped the Lions at the Thanksgiving weekend Heritage Duals.
The Wildcats also got extra points from Cederick Harris (113 pounds), Landon Goforth (160), McKenzie Martin (220) and Brody Gregory (285). Martin and Gregory had pins and Harris and Goforth scored technical falls.
The best match was at 170 pounds with Red Bank's Devin Crawl pulling out a 9-8 victory over Chris Nicholson with a takedown in the final eight seconds.
Hall was frustrated because Nicholson went up 8-7 with an escape with 10 seconds left.
"We've got to stop giving away close matches like this. He went to the state last year and was one match away from medaling," the coach said. "It's time for Chris to grow up."
Lions coach Shane Turner felt good.
"All week we've talked about learning to compete," he said. "Before, we'd get in tough spots in matches, come up against adversity and we'd fold up the tent. But tonight we competed. We were in two or three matches where we competed after being manhandled early in the season. I'm proud of the effort we got. They're better than us, but we did not just accept that. We battled and that's all I can ask."
He pointed to the 170-pound bout.
"That kind of heart and determination is what we have to have going into the postseason," Turner said. "It's going to come down at times not to who is the best wrestler but to the guy who will fight and scrap and claw to win. Devin gives up an escape (and the lead) with nine seconds left, and he comes back and finds a way to get the takedown. That's what I'm talking about when I talk about competing."
Red Bank earlier rolled over Brainerd, 45-12. The two Brainerd winners, each by pin, were Marcus McMillan, who bumped up to 195 pounds, and heavyweight Sedric Jordan.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.