SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn.–Signal Mountain went into Thursday night’s matchup against Hixson with the Region’s coveted Duals title on the line.
A win meant that the Eagles could take the next step and head to the State Duals, but the Wildcats had something to say about that as they trounced off the mountain with the 49-15 win.
“Now, we have to beat Red Bank to be considered the Runner-Up in the region,” Eagles head coach Joe Jellison said. “That’s pretty good in the Chattanooga area. If you win the region, you’ll most likely place at the State Duals. Chattanooga is the powerhouse of all of Tennessee in Wrestling. It gives these guys perspective of what it’s like to wrestle, not just a good team, but a great team.”
The Wildcats are known readily for their wrestling program, not only for the individual wrestlers but for the team as a whole.
“They do a really great job of bumping kids up,” Jellison said, referring to the movement of wrestlers in the lineup. “Their 106-pounder can wrestle competitively at 113-pound weight class. Their 138 can wrestle competitively at 145. And that’s something that we’re learning now: How can we get our guys to wrestle competitively in multiple weight classes?”
Signal Mountain saw the brunt of Hixson’s lineup movement after the first match of the night at the 285-pound weight class. Hixson’s Guiliano Palacio took 3 periods to take down Steven Goff with a 14-8 margin, scoring three points on the board for the Wildcats.
Daniel Uhorchuk would give the Eagles their only lead of the night with a 16-4 major decision Greg Marquez in the 106-pound weight class. Signal Mountain led 4-3 going into the 133-pound match between Kevin Muschel and Hixson’s Gill Tucker who picked up the pin in the second period.
From there, Hixson took the next five matchups in the lower-to-middle classes, with only one by forfeit. The Wildcats had a sizeable lead at 34-9 with Signal Mountain needing pinfalls the rest of the way to stay in it. Cue 2015 State Placer Daniel Dawson.
Dawson, after an initial takedown on Hixson’s Bruce Wilson, racked up three near-falls in the 1st period taking an early 10-0 lead. And after six points in the period, Dawson picked up the technical fall with a takedown in the third, bolstering the Eagles’ point total to 9.
Up next was Barrett Buffington in the 170-pound weight class with the pressure to pin all around him. After taking a rough hit on the head during a takedown by Jerrold Higginbotham, Buffington came back to get the score within two late before falling 7-5.
“He lost a very close one,” Jellison said. “He just had a lot more intensity the past couple of days in the practice. He’s just kind of had a fire in his belly. I think he’s starting to see he needs to pick it up because this is his senior year. He showed a lot of charisma tonight. That was impressive to watch.”
Jake Woodlief picked up a tough 8-5 decision over Jake Ivey to put the last points of the night on the board for Signal Mountain before Hixson took the 195- and 220-pound matches. One of those matches featured a pin by Hixson’s Deven Baker while he was down by four in the 3rd period.
“Usually when we wrestle Hixson, it’s like a bloodbath,” Jellison said. “We really didn’t lose as much as we ran out of time. Even though the match didn’t reflect on our effort, we rattled them a little bit and they knew that. They have a strong senior class and lot of our guys are still young. When you’ve got four eighth-graders in the lineup going up against seniors, they’re gonna be ahead of the curb next season as freshmen.”
The Eagles are now in the running for Runner-Up as they head to the Brawl in the Hall at Tennessee High School this weekend.