FRANKLIN, Tenn. – It wasn’t exactly the kind of day coach Jim Higgins had dreamed of having in the first day of the state duals wrestling tournament, which are being held at the spacious Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center this weekend.
The first-year Soddy Daisy head coach sent three of his starters home before the first match was ever held for breaking team rules.
Despite such a tough blow, the Trojans advanced to the championship semis with wins over Science Hill and Maryville and will face Wilson Central on Saturday at 2.
The Cleveland Blue Raiders had a near-perfect first day as they won 26 of 28 individual matches en route to convincing wins over Cordova and Clarksville.
The Blue Raiders will face Heritage on Saturday in the other AAA semifinal.
Turbo Smith, Branndon Hunt and Cody Grant were all sent packing Friday morning, but the Trojans maintained their composure with a 51-16 win over the Hilltoppers before slipping past Maryville by a 31-30 margin.
Cleveland pitched a 73-0 shutout at the Wolves before cruising past Clarksville by a similar 61-12 victory.
A lot of folks think the Soddy Daisy incident will keep the Trojans from winning their second-straight duals title and possibly even advancing to the finals, but Higgins isn’t buying into such a notion.
“I’m extremely pleased with the way we wrestled here today. We had to deal with some adversity, but the focus needs to be on these guys because they’ve done things the right way. I’m really happy with the way they fought today as they have banded together when the odds were against us.
“We’ve all been on an emotional roller-coaster, but they’ve responded to the challenge. We’re still trying to win another state championship as we haven’t left the building yet. This is day one of a very tough weekend, but the story is yet to be written about the 2012-13 Soddy Daisy Trojans,” Higgins suggested.
Cleveland coach Jake Yost certainly felt for Higgins and the situation he was dealing with, but that didn’t take away from an outstanding first day for the Blue Raiders.
“I thought we looked good in the first match with Cordova and we got about what we expected from Clarksville. I’m very pleased as we’re one round closer to the finals,” Yost suggested after his team had whipped the Wildcats in the second round.
“We’ve looked good so far, but we have a tough Heritage team in the semis on Saturday. Our team expects to do well and we talk about dominating our opponents and performing to the best of our ability. If we keep doing that, we’ll be just fine on Saturday,” Yost added.
Heritage advanced with wins over Blackman and Independence while Wilson Central advanced with wins over Bearden and Ravenwood.
Soddy Daisy is the defending AAA champion while Cleveland was the runner-up a year ago.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)