published Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Hixson Wildcats roll over Signal Mountain Eagles, 57-12

He's superstitious enough to have waited, but chances are good that Hixson wrestling coach Garrick Hall renewed a tradition Friday evening by calling the Marriott in Franklin to reserve rooms for the state duals Jan. 31-Feb. 1.

The heavily favored Wildcats, even with five freshmen in the lineup, beat previously unbeaten Signal Mountain 57-12 to earn their eighth straight appearance in the state duals.

A fairly good performance wasn't going to be enough for the Wildcats, who were challenged all week by Hall and his assistants. They wanted to leave no margin for error.

"Do you want to be the team that doesn't go back? Do you want to be the team that breaks the streak?" Hall said in repeating his daily motivational speech. "I told them they were good enough to win [the state title] and they were good enough to go. They've worked too hard not to go."

And they weren't going to be the bunch to break the run.

Filling every weight class, Hixson put a pair of forfeit victories to good use but didn't need them.

"That full lineup is a plus, especially in region competition, but in the state it's about having the depth to maneuver your lineup," Hall said. "I have some really good JV kids that are backing up strong varsity guys, and that enables us to use a guy or two to bump the lineup around."

The Wildcats earned bonus points in eight of of their 11 wins, including pins from Spencer Groves (106 pounds), Jovarrus Stegall (138), Ronny Huff (152), Landon Goforth (160) and Brody Gregory (285), a technical fall from Isaac Yates and a major decision from Grayson Layne.

Signal's winners were Seth Petarra (170), Cale Shelton (195) and Micah Pressley (220). There were two overtime matches and a one-point match, and the Eagles took two of the three.

"We were undefeated going into this match, and the big thing you get ready for every year is Hixson," Signal coach Joe Jellison said. "We schedule them toward the end of the season in order to get the guys ready, get them healthy and get them down at the right weight classes.

"I thought we had to win the close matches. To their credit, Hixson fought every second. They scored takedowns with two or three seconds left in the periods, and they maximized on opportunities where we lacked that. It's the little things we have to work on, maximizing every second and securing your points."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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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