The annual wrestling match between the Soddy Daisy Trojans and the Baylor Red Raiders has been a dandy in years past. Despite the fact that it's a non-region battle, the competition is always intense and exciting.
Thursday night's match at the Soddy Daisy wrestling arena lacked the usual intensity and for the most part, the excitement.
Granted, both teams were missing several key individuals, but the visiting Red Raiders won six of the first seven matches and were never really challenged as Baylor improved to 14-3 with the 35-33 victory.
It wasn't as close as the final score might indicate.
"That was good," Baylor coach Ben Nelson said as soon as the match ended.
"I know that both teams were missing several starters, but I told my guys that I expected them to wrestle as hard as we could. If we did that, we had a good chance of winning. The effort was there in every match and that's all I can ask for as their coach.
"To see them get a win like this against a great team like Soddy Daisy is huge for us. Most folks in the wrestling community were expecting us to get our tails kicked tonight," Nelson continued.
Four of the first six matches were won by regular decision and Baylor claimed them all.
Bryson Popp gave the Red Raiders an early lead with a 3-2 victory over Branndon Hunt in the opener at 160 pounds. Ryan Parker followed with a technical fall as Baylor's lead stretched to 8-0 before Garrett Alexander got the Trojans on the board with a first-period pin at 182.
Emory Norred, Jon Schmissrauter and Will Thomas all followed with decisions as the difference was 17-6 before Michael Murphy gave Baylor its biggest lead at 23-6 with a pin at 106.
Nelson was especially thankful for all of those close wins, but he had special praise for Thomas, a junior who is a first-year heavyweight.
"Somebody talked Will into coming out this year and he did with the idea of it helping him be a better football player. He's been a huge contributor to our success and I'm really proud of him," the coach smiled.
Perhaps the turning point in the match came at 113 pounds where Soddy Daisy's Chase Payne got an early takedown and had Jack Reynolds in a bad predicament near the edge of the mat.
Reynolds worked his way free and eventually dropped a 7-3 decision, but the Trojans failed to get any bonus points at that weight, which ultimately may have been the difference in the match.
Jacob Stevens and Tucker Russo both were awarded forfeits for the Trojans, but Baylor's Nick Standefer and Brandon Brunner both bumped up a weight and each earned first-period pins to clinch the win for the Red Raiders.
Gage Richmond and Turbo Smith both had quick pins for the Trojans to close out the action, but it was too little too late as Soddy Daisy dropped to 15-3 with the defeat.
Needless to say, Soddy Daisy coach Jim Higgins was not a happy fellow when it ended. Spending more than 30 minutes in a locked dressing room with his wrestlers, he wasn't smiling when he came out.
"I'm not nearly at all happy right now," he began at the top of the steps as he paused to take a deep breath.
"I just gave them a good dose, but they needed to hear what I had to say. We have issues right now and I told them we need to get it together before the wheels completely come off.
"We know that Baylor will never come up here and submit, no matter if it's Senior Night or not. We have some selfishness on this team and we got told on tonight. I certainly don't want to make any excuses, but Baylor did a good job of capitalizing on their opportunities.
"They wanted it worse than we did. We're at a crossroad right now and we can pick one of two directions to go. This was a match of pride with nothing else on the line. We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves, but we'll put the hammer down from here on.
"I don't think you can ever count a Soddy Daisy team out, but my guess is that you'll see a different team on Thursday night at Bradley," Higgins concluded.
BAYLOR 35, SODDY DAISY 33
(Match started at 160 Pounds)
106 -- Michael Murphy (B) pinned Jacob McClure, 1:34;
113 -- Chase Payne (SD) dec. Jack Reynolds, 7-3;
120 -- Jacob Stevens (SD) won by forfeit;
126 -- Tucker Russo (SD) won by forfeit;
132 -- Nick Standefer (B) pinned Joshua Stiles, 1:47;
138 -- Brandon Brunner (B) pinned Austin Williamson, 1:40;
145 -- Gage Richmond (SD) pinned Turner Troxel, :33;
152 -- Turbo Smith (SD) pinned Aidon Garron, 1:47;
160 -- Bryson Popp (B) dec. Branndon Hunt, 3-2;
170 -- Ryan Parker (B) won by technical fall over Hunter Maynor, 5:50;
182 -- Garrett Alexander (SD) pinned Winston Cooper, 1:31;
195 -- Emory Norred (B) dec. Tyler Hixson, 10-3;
220 -- Jon Schmissrauter (B) dec. Luke Reno, 6-3;
285 -- Will Thomas (B) dec. Cody Grant, 5-3.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)