After the first day of the Region 4 wrestling tournament, Central coach Marquis Dotson commended his 195 pounder, Trumond Martin, for an unexpected run to the championship bout.
When Martin held on to beat top-seeded William Montgomery 3-2 in the final on Saturday, Dotson went a step further.
“I guess he’s the surprise of the tournament,” Dotson said. “I knew he was going to come in and wrestle well, but he really stepped his game up this weekend and exceeded expectations.”
Martin, No. 3 in the 195 bracket, was the lowest seeded wrestler to win a region title Saturday, in the second and final day of the tournament at Soddy-Daisy. His individual title was one of three for the Purple Pounders, who took second in the team competition.
After Soddy-Daisy placed 10 wrestlers in championship bouts the first day and built a 110-point lead, runner-up was the best anyone outside of the Trojans could hope for on day two.
“I’m never pleased with second, but then again, I’m pleased with the way they wrestled,” Dotson said. “It’s a pretty good way to finish.”
Soddy-Daisy’s 277.5 points dwarfed Central’s 175.5, but the Purple Pounders did enough to hold off a group of three teams that still had a realistic chance at second after Friday’s matches. They finished just ahead of Notre Dame, which also claimed three titles, and managed 147 team points with only 12 wrestlers. Hixson finished fourth, while East Ridge was fifth.
“We’re excited about our seven qualifiers and tickled to death about our three region champions,” Notre Dame coach John Mullin said.
All three of the Irish’s titles came in the lower weights, and each ended with a win over a Soddy-Daisy wrestler, dampening the Trojans’ celebration.
For Soddy-Daisy, the regional tournament was as much about winning titles as it was about placement for next weekend’s state tournament. The state competition begins Thursday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center in Franklin, Tenn. The top four finishers in the region advanced to state, with seeding depending largely on Saturday’s results. Of the 10 Trojans in championship matches, five came away with wins.
Meanwhile, Cleveland clinched six individual titles and won the team championship in the Region 3 tournament at Bradley Central on Saturday. The Trojans and Blue Raiders will be the overwhelming favorites at state.
“We had some kids really come through,” Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. “Now it just comes down to what you’re going to get (in state).”
With the region title sealed, the Trojans could afford to look ahead. Meanwhile, the heap below still scrapped.
In the opening championship bout, at 106 pounds, Central’s Cody Bowman battled exhaustion to edge Soddy-Daisy’s Austin Houser in a 4-2 decision. When it was over, Bowman kneeled on the side of the mat, barely able to move.
“He realized, ‘Hey, I’m this close, I’ve got to finish it,'” Dotson said. “He wrestled the kid earlier in the season and won in three overtimes. He didn’t want it to get to that point again.”
Bowman and Martin were joined by second-seeded Larry Dickerson (152) as region champions for Central.
Notre Dame’s three title winners were highlighted by second-seeded Packy Mullin, who earned a 10-9 decision at 120 over Soddy Daisy’s top-seeded Jacob Stevens in one of the closest matches of the final round. Teammates Jack Boone (126) and Grayson Mullin (145) joined him as region champions.
In all, wrestlers from six different schools claimed region titles Saturday. Perhaps the best performance of the weekend came from Tyner’s DeAngelo James, who won all three of his matches at 113 by fall and never wrestled into the second round. His pin in 57 seconds in the final gave him a three-match total of 2 minutes, 33 seconds spent on the mat.
Although every No. 1 seed qualified for the state tournament, there were a multitude of upsets Saturday. Only half of the 14 top seeds won their weight class, while 13 unseeded wrestlers placed in the top four.