The Hixson Wildcats lived up to their pre-tournament billing as the overall favorite in the first-ever Region 2-A/AA wrestling tournament by winning easily at Hixson Middle School Saturday afternoon.
It was a close race for the first day of competition, but the Wildcats separated themselves from the rest of the 16-team field by winning five of 12 matches in the championship semifinals.
Hixson's lead was a commanding 39 points over second-place Central following that first round Saturday morning, but the Wildcats then won three of their five matches in the championship finals and four of seven in the consolation finals to finish the two-day tournament with 200 points and a dozen qualifiers for next week's traditional state tournament, which begins for the A-AA teams on Friday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center in Franklin.
Hixson had the first-place title locked up long before the finals, but it was still an interesting race for the runner-up award. East Ridge, who was in second place after Friday's action, finished in the same spot with 123 points while Central was third with 120.5 and Red Bank fourth with 116.5. Notre Dame completed the top five teams with 106.5 points.
Hixson, East Ridge and Notre Dame had three individual champions each while Signal Mountain had two. Central, Lookout Valley and Sale Creek all had one each.
Hixson's three winners included Isaac Yates at 126, Jovarrus Stegall at 138 and Landon Goforth at 152 while the three from East Ridge included Hunter Owens at 106, DeAngelo Johnson at 170 and C.J. Baker at 285.
Owens is one of two unbeaten wrestlers in the field and he stands at 16-0 following his 1-0 victory over Red Bank's Trent Comeaux. Baker didn't have to wrestle a match on Saturday after beating Brainerd'd Sedric Jordan on Friday night in the semis. Central's Sam Stephenson chose to forfeit the championship match.
Notre Dame's three winners included Luke Mullin at 113, Packy Mullin at 132 and Noah Bankston at 145. Packy Mullin is the other unbeaten individual who is now 25-0 going into next week's state tournament.
Cale Shelton (182) and Micah Pressley (220) were victorious for Signal Mountain whileTrent Walliser earned the 120-pound title for Lookout Valley. Sale Creek's Sam Morgan was the winner at 160 and Central's Truman Martin prevailed at 195.
The Best Match award went to the 126-pound championship where Hixson's Yates scored a takedown at the buzzer to nip Brandon Whitley of East Ridge by a 7-5 final. It was an action-packed, fast-paced match from the opening whistle and was by far the best match in the tournament.
The two best wrestler awards went to Lookout Valley's Walliser in the lower weights and Signal Mountain's Pressley in the upper weights. Both had pins in the finals with Walliser getting one in 2:36 before Pressley had the quickest in just 40 seconds.
Hixson coach Garrick Hall didn't want to talk about his team having the title all wrapped up long before the final rounds were wrestled. But he was pretty upbeat about his team when they started passing out individual awards.
"We showed up and wrestled well today, but we beat some kids who we had lost to earlier in the season. My guys stayed focused. I was hoping that all 14 would qualify for the state, but 12 isn't a bad number.
"We pretty much won the ones I thought we'd win, but I was hoping we'd win more of the toss-up matches on Friday. But it was a total team effort and that's what it will take to win next week.
"I'm really proud of Isaac Yates at 126. He's just a sophomore and has only been wrestling for two years, but he has decided that wrestling is his sport and he's worked as hard as anybody to get better.
"And I must give praise to all of our parents and members of our booster club as they all stepped up and did an outstanding job of running this tournament. It can be a difficult job, but they made it look easy and I'm appreciative of what they do for our team and this sport," Hall nodded.
East Ridge coach Chris Bird couldn't have asked for much more from his guys and he was pretty happy when all was said and done.
"I thought my guys wrestled well, but Hixson just wrestled a little bit better," the first-year leader nodded.
"We had an interesting final, but hat's off to Hixson. We got a few breaks and we suffered a few heartbreaks, but the main goal is to send kids to the state to win state titles. This is a tough tournament.
"I was really proud of Hunter Owens at 106. He's been out with bad hips for most of the last two years, but he really came through today," Bird smiled.
LEGEND AND FINAL TEAM SCORES: 1. Hixson (Hix) 200; 2. East Ridge (ER) 123; 3. Chattanooga Central (CCen) 120.5; 4. Red Bank (RB) 116.5; 5. Notre Dame (ND) 106.5; 6. Signal Mountain (SM) 102; 7. Tyner (T) 75; 8. Brainerd (Bra) 41; 9. Whitwell (W) 31.5; 10. Chattanooga Christian (CCS) 31; 11. Lookout Valley (LV) and Sale Creek (SC) tied with 26; 13. Sequatchie Co. (Seq) 23; 14. Silverdale (Sil) 18; 15. Howard (How) 16; 16. Boyd-Buchanan (BB) 15.
106 -- Hunter Owens (ER) dec. Trent Comeaux (RB), 1-0;
113 -- Luke Mullin (ND) won by technical fall over Warren Weaver (SM), 5:22;
120 -- Trent Walliser (LV) pinned Cody Baugh (RB), 2:36;
126 -- Isaac Yates (Hix) dec. Brandon Whitley (ER), 7-5;
132 -- Packy Mullin (ND) pinned Bryson Lemons (CCen), 1:43;
138 -- Jovarrus Stegall (Hix) dec. Gabe McDuffie (RB), 7-1;
145 -- Noah Bankston (ND) dec. Heyward Alonso (CCen), 7-4;
152 -- Landon Goforth (Hix) pinned Xavier Norwood (CCen), 5:01;
160 -- Sam Morgan (SC) pinned Kyler Kayanek (SM), 1:02;
170 -- DeAngelo Johnson (ER) dec. Devin Crawl (RB), 9-7;
182 -- Cale Shelton (SM) pinned Dylan Bargerstock (Hix), 1:18;
195 -- Truman Martin (CCen) major dec. McKenzie Martin (Hix), 9-1;
220 -- Micah Pressley (SM) pinned Christopher Hornsby (ND), :40;
285 -- C.J. Baker (ER) won by forfeit over Sam Stephenson (CCen).
CONSOLATION FINALS FOR THIRD PLACE
106 -- Ned Warwick (ND) pinned Spencer Groves (Hix), 4:34;
113 -- Cedrick Harris (Hix) won by technical fall over Blake Reichel (RB), 4:16;
120 -- Gavin Gardner (Seq) pinned Konnor Ziegler (Hix), 3:50;
126 -- Carter Thomas (CCS) dec. Issac Coffman (CCen), 3-1;
132 -- Grayson Layne (Hix) dec. Spencer Griffy (ER), 1-0;
138 -- Justin Wheeler (CCS) dec. Zane Williams (BB),1-0;
145 -- David Johnson (RB) dec. Hunter Daugherty (T), 2-1;
152 -- Chase Daugherty (T) pinned Kain Kell (RB), 3:29;
160 -- Matthew Mapp (ER) dec. Juan Comacho (T), 6-4;
170 -- Chris Nicholson (Hix) major dec. Denzell Robinson (Bra), 13-2;
182 -- Matt McCulley (Sil) pinned Marcus McMillan (Bra), 4:46;
195 -- Seth Cumby (W) pinned Kevin Cortes (T), 1:50;
220 -- Curtis Noiseaux (CCen) dec. Bubba Palacio (Hix), 6-4 in overtime;
285 -- Brody Gregory (Hix) dec. Sedric Jordan (Bra), 1-0.
106 -- Trent Comeaux (RB) major dec. Spencer Groves (Hix), 13-4;
106 -- Robert Owens (ER) dec. Ned Warwick (ND), 9-2.
113 -- Luke Mullin (ND) pinned Blake Reichel (RB), 1:56;
113 -- Warren Weaver (SM) dec. Cedrick Harris (Hix), 7-5;
120 -- Trent Walliser (LV) pinned Konnor Ziegler (Hix), 1:25;
120 -- Cody Baugh (RB) dec. Hunt Drennan (SM), 8-5;
126 -- Brandon Whitley (ER) pinned Issac Coffman (CCen), 1:28;
126 -- Isaac Yates (Hix) major dec. Carter Thomas (CCS), 16-3;
132 -- Packy Mullin (ND) major dec. Grayson Layne (Hix), 14-4;
132 -- Bryson Lemons (CCen) pinned Spencer Griffy (ER), 3:25;
138 -- Gabe McDuffie (RB) pinned Justin Wheeler (CCS), 4:13;
138 -- Jovarrus Stegall (Hix) major dec. Jacob Newman (SM), 12-4;
145 -- Heyward Alonso (CCen) dec. David Johnson (RB), 7-5;
145 -- Noah Bankston (ND) major dec. Hunter Daugherty (T). 12-4;
152 -- Landon Goforth (Hix) pinned Kain Kell (RB), 3:56;
152 -- Xavier Norwood (CCen) dec. Chase Daugherty (T), 9-2;
160 -- Sam Morgan (SC) pinned Daniel Mikel (W), 1:11;
160 -- Kyler Kayanek (SM) pinned Robert Perry (RB), 1:25;
170 -- DeAngelo Johnson (ER) dec. Chris Nicholson (Hix), 6-4;
170 -- Devin Crawl (RB) major dec. Seth Petarra (SM), 21-9;
182 -- Cale Shelton (SM) pinned Nakota Culver (ER), 1:30;
182 -- Dylan Bargerstock (Hix) dec. Eddie Lee Joseph (T), 3-1 in overtime;
195 -- Truman Martin (CCen) pinned Gabe Smith (RB), 1:41;
195 -- McKenzie Martin (Hix) pinned Seth Cumby (W), 1:54;
220 -- Micah Pressley (SM) pinned Curtis NHoiseaux (CCen), :19;
220 -- Christopher Hornsby (ND) dec. Bubba Palacio (Hix), 5-2;
285 -- C.J. Baker (ER) major dec. Sedric Jordan (Bra), 15-7 (Match wrestled Friday night);
285 -- Sam Stephenson (CCen) dec. Brody Gregory (Hix), 3-1.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)