Staff File Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press T.J. Duncan of McCallie is favored to win a state wresting title for a record fifth time.
With the exception of 103, 152 and 285 pounds, each of the Division I weight classes has at least 10 wrestlers who are making at least their second trip to the state tournament.
The 103-pound weight class has the least with three (and just three seniors) and there are 9 at 152 and at 285.
The 152-pound weight class includes two-time medalist Bradley Colbaugh of Bradley Central, Soddy-Daisy sophomore Turbo Smith and Franklin's Zach Bennett. Colbaugh already has two third-place medals (140, 2010; 130, 2009). Smith was the 140-pound runner-up last year as a freshman and Bennett was fifth at 145 last year.
At 285, there is just one returning medalist, that being Bradley Central junior Patrick Benson, who was 5th last year. Benson is one of the state's biggest weight-watchers. He dropped from a football playing weight of 310. The field also has a climber is Soddy-Daisy's Alex Seeley, who can take the rope to the gym ceiling. And for those who haven't seen him, East Ridge freshman C.J. Baker is the biggest kid in the school at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. And there isn't a whole lot of fat.
The weight with the most experience is at 130 pounds with 18. It is a field that includes junior and two-time champion Campbell Lewis of Soddy-Daisy. There are seven former medalists in the group including three-time medalist Nick Maxwell. The former Knox Karns wrestler, now at Hardin Valley, was fourth at 112 last year, second at 103 in 2009 and fifth at 103 in 2008. Also in that bracket are Franklin's Austin Woods, who was third at 130 last year, and Bradley's Jericho Crutcher, the 112-pound runner-up in 2010.
There are former state finalists at 112 (Cleveland's Austin Oliver, 103), 119 (Notre Dame's Jack Boone, 119), 125 (Bradley Central's Ethan Hames, 119), 130 (Bradley's Crutcher, 112), 135 (Cleveland's Marvin Lopez, 135), 140 (Bradley's Tyler Pitts, 103 in 2009), 145 (Independence's Brennan Cox), 152 (Soddy-Daisy's Smith), 189 (Pigeon Forge's Cody Davis, 171) and 215 (Bradley's Tucker Bolton, 215).
Hames won state titles last year and in 2008 and was fourth in 2009 at 112. Lopez was a state champ at 130 last year, a state finalist at 119 in 2009 and a fourth-place finisher at 119 in 2008.
As for those previous state qualifiers, the state's blind draw was pretty good at separating them, even if it was by accident.
There are three such first-round match-ups at 125—Hixson's Logan Vandergriff vs. Franklin's Alex Bennett, Ravenwood's Jack Finnegar vs. Blackman's Eric Feuerbacher and Walker Valley's Hunter Davis against Ooltewah's Tyler Harvey.
There are five at 130—Soddy-Daisy's Lewis vs. Ravenwood's Ryan Churchill, Collierville's Hunter Barker vs. Harpeth's Dyllon Bass, David Crockett's Rico Vaquero vs. McGavock's Carlos Garcia, Gibbs' Logan Young vs. East Ridge's Raffy Aguilera and Notre Dame's Grayson Mullin vs. Halls' Alex LaRue.
At 135, it's Cleveland's Lopez vs. Independence's Ernie Overton and at 145 it's Science Hill's Wes Vaughn vs. Red Bank's Zach Sharp. At 160, Hixson's Justin Mathieson takes on Ravenwood's Jonathan Mabry and Ooltewah's Josh Zink (a Farragut transfer) goes against Science Hill's Austin Fulbright. At 171, ELM's Chris Cartwright meets Jefferson County's Colin Bradley, Stone Memorial's Jonathan Waldrup meets Halls' Connor Rohrbaugh, Brentwood's Chris Hoop takes on Science Hill's Matt Stull and Soddy-Daisy's Blaike Henry goes against Tullahoma's Dillon Crouch.
The 189-pound favorite, Pigeon Forge's Cody Davis, gets Red Bank's Delvonte Colvin in a first-match bout of previous qualifiers and Rakim Talley (Dickson County) takes on Stone Memorial's John Adams. Also at 189, Blackman's Adam Wells has Millington's Jonathan Taylor.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...