The Signal Mountain Eagles are the defending Class A State Duals champions in wrestling and considered to be an early favorite to win it all again in Franklin on the first weekend in February.
The Eagles improved to 18-2 at home Tuesday night where they hosted the Region 4-A duals, but it wasn’t easy as the Soddy Daisy Trojans gave the home team all they wanted and more before falling 40-33 in the championship match.
The Eagles had defeated Polk County by a 54-29 score in the first semifinal while the Trojans eliminated East Hamilton by a 38-30 final.
They saved the best for last and the near-overflow crowd more than got their money’s worth as it turned into quite a match. Soddy Daisy may have had more fans than the Eagles, but they all made plenty of noise, creating quite the championship atmosphere that it was.
The Eagles won six of the first seven matches and had a 28-5 lead following Caleb Uhorchuk’s first-minute pin at 138, but the Trojans were far from finished.
Jackson Davis added another pin for the Eagles two matches later at 152 to put the hosts up 34-10 before Soddy Daisy came storming back and got within a point at 34-33 with a technical fall and three straight pins.
The final outcome came down to the final match at 220 pounds where senior Jacob Winchester sent the home fans happy with a third-period pin.
Winchester is a student at Lookout Valley where his father Tommy is on the coaching staff in football and baseball. Jacob earned All-State honors in football back in the fall, but because Lookout Valley doesn’t have a wrestling program, he co-ops at Signal Mountain.
He had a 5-1 lead in the final period, but was visibly worn out. However, he got one final spark of energy which allowed him to score at takedown and get the final pin call with 32 seconds left in the match.
Signal Mountain coach Houston Clement was one relieved gentleman when all the dust settled.
“I’ve been a nervous wreck all week as I knew that we’d have a battle with Soddy Daisy if we both advanced to the finals. It just doesn’t get any better than this as every person on my team had a role in today’s win,” Clement began.
“Even the guys who lost did a great job of avoiding pins and giving up bonus points, but you have to give Ulrich Winesburgh a lot of credit because he’s brought the Soddy Daisy program back to life and has really turned things around for them.
“Jacob’s win at 220 was big, but there were a couple of others who won and we had to have both. Daniel Odom was on his back and really close to getting pinned, but rallied to get a pin in the first match at 285.
“And then Luke Higdon got some big team points with a decision at 106. He weighed in some 12 pounds under that, but he showed a whole lot of heart and those are just two matches we had to have.
“We also got some really important bonus points at times when we had to have them, but we’re just hoping we’ll see them again in Franklin,” Clement added.
Soddy Daisy’s Winesburgh was scratching his head following the match, just trying to imagine where his team could have made up the difference.
“That was exciting,” Winesburgh said after taking a few minutes to gather his thoughts.
“Our effort was great as we just took the defending state champs to the brink as we gave them all they wanted.
“I’m really proud of how we responded after getting so far behind, but we just kept battling. We’re starting to get some toughness back in our program, but I was really proud of our fight and effort,” he said with a serious tone.
When all was said and done, Signal Mountain won eight matches overall with five pins, two regular decisions and one major decision. Soddy Daisy countered with three pins and three technical falls.
Pins for the Eagles came from JoJo Uhorchuk, Caleb Uhorchuk, Jackson Davis, Winchester and Odom while Ethan Uhorchuk had a major decision while Jackson Owens and Higdon both had regular decisions.
Soddy Daisy got pins from Elijah Turner, Tucker Ross and Louden Laxton while Zander Duncan, Braylan Cosper and Logan Ralinson all got five team points with technical falls.
Signal Mountain will be at home again on Friday to host Stone Memorial in a Sub-State match with the winner advancing the State Duals next weekend in Franklin.
Soddy Daisy is now 30-5 and will be on the road Friday to face Pigeon Forge.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 40, SODDY DAISY 33
(Match began at 285 pounds)
106 – Luke Higdon (SM) dec. Micah Hilton, 4-0;
113 – JoJo Uhorchuk (SM) pinned Tyson Flavin, :23;
120 – Zander Duncan (SD) won by technical fall over Carter Lynch, 4:59;
126 – Ethan Uhorchuk (SM) major dec. Andrew Lewis, 9-0;
132 – Jackson Owens (SM) dec. William Whalen, 9-8;
138 – Caleb Uhorchuk (SM) pinned Colin Bull, :43;
145 – Braylon Cosper (SD) won by technical fall over Eben Shriner, 3:55;
152 – Jackson Davis (SM) pinned Gage Welch, 1:26;
160 – Logan Rawlinson (SM) won by technical fall over Mason Lillard, 4:01;
170 – Elijah Turner (SD) pinned Bayler Roddy, :35;
182 – Tucker Ross (SD) pinned Jaxon Quails, 4:00;
195 – Louden Laxton (SD) pinned Carson Burkhalter, :49;
220 – Jacob Winchester (SM) pinned Torry Montgomery, 5:28;
285 – Daniel Odom (SM) pinned Jonathan Davis, 2:50.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)