published Friday, January 17th, 2014

Opening blitz leads to Soddy-Daisy Trojans romp

Soddy-Daisy's Christian Dean and Bradley Central's Zach McFarland grapple during a 195-pound bout at the Soddy-Daisy Wrestling Arena on Thursday.
Soddy-Daisy's Christian Dean and Bradley Central's Zach McFarland grapple during a 195-pound bout at the Soddy-Daisy Wrestling Arena on Thursday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.

Austin Houser opened the rivalry matchup with a pin, and Soddy-Daisy's unexpected charge was on.

The host and sixth-ranked Trojans, wrestling in front of a near capacity house, went on a seven-match victory binge for a devastating 35-0 lead on the way to a 44-24 victory over fifth-ranked Bradley Central.

"Going into the meet we knew there was a high chance of Austin getting bonus points," said Gage Richmond, one of the Trojans captains. "The momentum started with him and built from there."

Soddy-Daisy picked up bonus points in five of the first seven wins. The Trojans also got pins from Tucker Russo (132 pounds), Richmond (145) and Tyler Hixson and a technical fall from Garrett Alexander (160). They got decisions from Emory Holcomb (132) and Austin Williamson (152) where the Bears had shots at cutting the streak.

"We wanted to start [the meet] anywhere between 126 and 145 pounds," Trojans coach Jim Higgins said. "We felt in the middle of the lineup we could do some damage."

Soddy-Daisy wrapped up the victory on 195-pound Christian Dean's 6-4 decision with five matches remaining, including those for Bradley standouts Ryan McElhaney (106) and Toribio Navarro. Those two provided two of the Bears' five wins, the others coming on a forfeit by Knox Fuller to end the meet, a pin by Brett Brown (182) that gave Bradley its first win in the event and a decision from heavyweight J.J. Johnson.

Whatever Bradley coach Ben Smith had to say remained in the Bears locker room. They were still in a meeting long after the Trojans' arena had emptied.

While the lopsided loss was taken to heart by the Bears, Higgins was pleased with what can easily be construed as the Trojans' best effort of the season.

"I feel pretty good. We're improving as we work toward our goals," he said. "I'm absolutely pleased. The attitude was great. We're laden with underclassmen but there was serious focus and serious intensity. They were going for the throat, which was something we had talked about all week."

With that outcome and Cleveland's 39-18 victory over Walker Valley, the Region 3-AAA duals tournament schedule next Thursday at Ooltewah is set. Cleveland will wrestle Bradley; Soddy-Daisy will take on Walker Valley. Those meets are to begin at 7 p.m. with the championship bout to follow immediately. The winner and runner-up secure state duals berths.

Contact Ward Gossett at or 423-886-4765. Follow him at

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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