The anticipated winners came through and advanced to the Tennessee State Duals next Friday in Franklin, but not without a few palpitations.
Bradley Central closed to within 23-22 of defending state champion Cleveland before the Blue Raiders put the match away 39-22, and Soddy-Daisy had to overcome a 20-point deficit to secure a 40-32 victory over Walker Valley in the Region 4 wrestling semifinals Thursday at Ooltewah.
"I actually felt good," Cleveland coach Jake Yost said. "We wrestled better in most of the matches that we did last time. I feel like we're continuing to progress and feel good about where we are heading into next weekend."
Said Bradley Central coach Ben Smith: "Congrats to Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy. We had to reverse some losses from our last meet and win some close ones. We did what we could."
There was no championship match, Soddy-Daisy deciding to forfeit. The Trojans had some issues with illness, and coach Jim Higgins felt there was nothing to gain by wrestling the match.
"We're region champs and get a top seed next week. They have to do what's best for them," Yost said.
"We decided earlier in the week," Higgins said. "I don't know that we were ready for that. Austin Houser wrestled a good match, but he's had a viral infection and hasn't been to practice all week. We were concerned about him being here."
Soddy-Daisy jumped to a 12-0 lead but then allowed Walker Valley a six-match run that resulted in a 32-12 Mustangs advantage. However, the Trojans won the last six including key pins from Jacob McClure, Emory Holcome and technical falls from Tucker Russo and Gage Richmond.
"Walker Valley is a different team from what we saw early in the year. They're a force to be reckoned with," Higgins said. "Nothing good comes from panic, but I was nervous. Any time you're on the ropes you get nervous, especially when you're a team that likes to be in control. I guess some of our guys got caught up in the scenery."
It's the second year in a row that Walker Valley has had to wrestle Soddy-Daisy in a region semifinal. Last year the Mustangs lost to the Trojans by just three points.
"Soddy-Daisy may be state duals champs. We don't know," Mustangs coach Alan Morris said. "But we just battled them well. We're in the toughest region in the state, and I think teams in this tournament would represent any region in the state well."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...