When he quit smoking after more than 30 years, Schaack Van Deusen put down the cigarettes one day and hasn't touched them since.
However, walking away from wrestling wasn't so easy. The retiree is back on the Baylor School bench.
"I thought I could quit cold turkey," he said. "But I'm just a cheerleader now."
Not so. Van Deusen, recognized as one of the sport's most crafty tacticians, is back with Baylor, taking those meticulous matside notes that brought the Red Raiders oodles of championships.
Dworak back from London
He missed Walker Valley's first real shot at a win over Bradley Central, but heavyweight Sam Dworak had good reason. He was out of the country.
Dworak was in London playing the trombone with Walker Valley's band, which performed in the annual Lord Mayor's New Year's Day parade.
"I had hoped to go overseas at some point but no time soon," he said. "London's a nice city. I could picture living there. It's really the same as anywhere else."
Dworak had two extracurricular activities last fall. Every Friday evening at halftime of football games, the offensive tackle and noseguard would slip off his pads and join the band.
Calling East Ridge alumni
East Ridge has scheduled a homecoming match for Jan. 26, when the Pioneers will host district rival Notre Dame.
The staff is asking all former Pioneers wrestlers to come for the meet, which starts at 6 p.m., and a reception afteward in the Goss Building.
Anyone interested should contact Mike Parker, a former East Ridge coach, at email@example.com
Wildcats' Cyree drops to 106
There have been questions about Tullahoma's 113-pound Devan Cyree dropping to 106. Cyree, who was named best wrestler at the Soddy-Daisy showdown, is indeed moving down. His younger brother Cleveland is likely, pending challenge matches, to move up to 113. At last check, Devan was 21-0.
Cordova's Smith staying
There also have been questions about Cordova's Byron Smith dropping from 120 to 113.
"Byron is going to stay at 120 at the moment," Cordova coach Brian Loeffler said. "We were planning on [wrestling] Soddy-Daisy this weekend [at Christian Brothers] and see how we [did] against [defending champ Jacob] Stevens. But Soddy-Daisy has backed out of the CBHS duals this weekend."
Other Cordova wrestlers to watch are 145-pound Dedrick Mays, a state medalist last year, and 182-pound Jordan Davis (182). Davis beat Soddy-Daisy's Blaike Henry at the Soddy-Daisy Showdown earlier this month.
Update on the unbeatens
When listing the state's unbeaten prep wrestlers last week, we omitted Christian Brothers' Kaleb Baker. The 152-pounder is 25-0.
Moving on to college
With the commitment of Barrett Walthall (170) from Christian Brothers to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the list of Tennessee wrestlers who'll move on to the college ranks has grown to five.
Baylor's Houston Clements (160) is headed to North Carolina and the Red Raiders' Brandon Brunner (132) will join former UTC coach Chris Bono at South Dakota State. Soddy-Daisy's Henry has committed to King College, and Christian Brothers' Baker signed with Arizona State.
Hurricanes going annual
East Hamilton plans to make its tournament, which was last Saturday, an annual event.
"We wanted to get [a tournament] on the calendar this year with the idea of eventually growing it into a 16-team event," Hurricanes coach Ryan Cooper said.
East Ridge won the inaugural tournament, an eight-team affair.
The local tournament calendar is brimming over starting with the Heritage Duals, the Old-Timer's Duals at UTC and the Ooltewah Invitational. Between then and the state tournaments, there are duals or duals/invitationals at Boyd-Buchanan, Bradley Central, Central, Chattanooga Christian, McCallie, Soddy-Daisy, St. Andrew's-Sewanee and now East Hamilton.
Division II prowess
State Division II powers Christian Brothers and Father Ryan flexed their muscles over the weekend, winning the Brentwood Invitational and Fandetti Brawl, respectively.
They outscored the state's highest-ranked Division I teams, Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy.
Fandetti winners were North Henderson's Michael Langford (106), Soddy-Daisy's Austin Houser (113) and Jacob Stevens (120), Pigeon Forge's Joseph Dodgen (126), Baylor's Brandon Brunner (132) and Ryan Parker (170), Father Ryan's Ryan Simpson (138) and Mark Marchetti (145), Jay M. Robinson's Jake Glunt (152), Scottsboro's Brandon Womack (160), Dickson County's Fletcher Valentine (182), T.C. Roberson's Coburn Burroughs (195), Oak Mountain's Lloyd Time (220) and Lake Norman's Brendan Latham (285).
Brentwood winners included McCallie's Addison Cornell (106), Adam Connell (132) and Casey Cook (220); Christian Brothers' Elijah Oliver (113), Baker (152), Barrett Walthall (170) and Corbin McOlgan (195); Ravenwood's Jacob Freeman (145); Cleveland's Aaron Lopez (160) and Ethan West (182); and Clarksville's Bruno Reagan (285).
One of the highlight matches involved Oliver and Cleveland's Chris Debien. Oliver caught Debien in the first period with a pinning combination for the win. It was just Debien's third loss in 29 matches.
There were other spotlight matches including John David Santi of Christian Brothers downing Cleveland's Austin Stevison 9-5 in a 120-pound semifinal and then Stevison's 10-7 consolation finals win over McCallie's Alex Elsea.
Oh, for yesteryear
Baylor and Bradley Central wrestled a dual as part of the Fandetti Brawl in Johnson City last Friday with Baylor prevailing 31-27. It was the schools' first wrestling meeting in decades. While both are members of the state's current top 10, it would have been nice to see them wrestle a few years ago when each was dominating its respective division. Man, what a crowd that would have drawn.
If I remember correctly, there was even talk of a postseason match between the two, but it never materialized. Regardless, for wrestling fans it's a step in the right direction.
The rest of the year
A big meets remaining on the schedule include an A/AA dual between Hixson and East Ridge on Tuesday at 6 at East Ridge. The two are the area's likely state duals representatives.
The AAA region duals are Thursday at Cleveland, and likely competitors are Soddy-Daisy and Bradley from one district and Cleveland and Walker Valley from the other. That's the Trojans vs. Walker Valley and Cleveland vs. the Bears. Top two teams advance to the AAA state duals Feb. 1-2 in Franklin. Those are the same dates for Georgia's area (region) duals.
The annual Baylor-McCallie match is at 6 p.m. Friday at Baylor.
Tennessee traditional regionals are Feb. 8-9, the same date as Georgia sectionals. Region 3, which includes Bradley, Cleveland, Walker Valley, Rhea County and others, will be at William Blount High in Maryville. Region 4, which features Soddy-Daisy, Hixson, East Ridge and Notre Dame, will be at Ooltewah.
Both Georgia and Tennessee traditional tournaments will be the following week. The Tennessee tournament at Franklin is Feb. 14-16, and the Georgia tournament is Feb. 15-16 at Macon.
Mocs on the road
UTC will wrestle at Cleveland (Ohio) State at 1 p.m. Sunday but returns home the following week to open its Southern Conference schedule against a highly touted Citadel. That's also Legends weekend and the Mocs will honor former team members, including introduction of the program's All-Americans over the years.
The Mocs, by the way, should be considered experts on college wrestling's Top 25. They have seen or will see eight of the top nine in Intermat's latest poll including seven of the top eight and No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 19 Virginia and No. 25 Air Force.
Nick Soto, the Mocs' 125-pounder, is 15th in the latest Intermat rankings.
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 ...