With his team down by six points, Jacob Stevens decisioned fellow defending state champion Austin Stevison and started an eight-match win streak for the fifth-ranked Soddy-Daisy wrestling team Thursday against second-ranked Cleveland.
The Trojans' blitz produced a 35-16 victory and surprised visiting Blue Raiders coach Jake Yost, who was back at the school where he competed and served as an assistant coach.
"They reeled off win after win, and I wasn't expecting that," he said.
The 120-pound bout between Stevens and Stevison had grudge written all over it. Both wrestlers were at 113 pounds last year and Stevison got the best of Stevens at the McCallie Invitational. Looking for his second state title, Stevens wound up moving to 120 and got that championship. Stevison survived the 113-pound bracket to earn his first state title.
"It's all practice till February, but after last year [at McCallie], yeah, I wanted to win," said Stevens, who improved to 10-1. "It's as tough a match as I've had all year."
Added Trojans coach Jim Higgins: "Both sides expected to win [at 120]."
Several of them were that way in the state powers' battle. Austin Williamson went 19 seconds into overtime before pulling out an 8-6 victory over Cleveland's Ezra Taylor. In another highlight bout, Soddy-Daisy's Turbo Smith shrugged off the flu that kept him out of practice Wednesday and bumped up to 160 to take a 3-2 overtime victory over the Blue Raiders' Aaron Lopez. The win came on a takedown in the last two seconds of the final overtime period.
"It was tough wrestling up, and I really got pumped at the end of the match," Smith said. "I held it in, though, because the coaches don't like us celebrating."
Another big Trojans victory came at 132 pounds with Alex Oliver putting his team in the lead with a pin of Taylor Bishop. It was Oliver's fourth win of the season
"He wasn't even going to wrestle in high school," Higgins said. "This is only his second year to wrestle for us. He spent the first two years playing basketball."
Both teams held out their 182-pounders, the Trojans' Blaike Henry and the Blue Raiders' Ethan West. Cleveland also was without Haden Hamilton and Austin Oliver.
"I still feel we can win, but we threw everything we had at them and they had more than we did," Yost said.
"They haven't set their lineup yet, and neither have we. I guarantee we'll see them again," said Higgins, who, like Yost, is a former Soddy-Daisy wrestler in his first year as a head coach.
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 ...