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Dix leads champ trio at Halls
Turner, Blankenship also win wrestling tournament titles


Farragut’s Scott Dix, ranked No. 1 in the state among Division I wrestlers in the 140-pound class, has Maryville’s Alex Sparks locked to the floor.- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
It only took a second-period escape — worth one point — for the state’s top-ranked Division I wrestler in the 140-pound class to claim another tournament title.

Farragut High School’s Scott Dix didn’t have much margin for error, but the junior outlasted Alex Sparks of Maryville 1-0 to win the 2004 Halls Invitational Saturday at Halls High School. Dix, who qualified for the Division I state tournament as a freshman and sophomore, improved his season record to 35-3 with this latest conquest.


Dix was one of three FHS wrestlers to win an individual championship Saturday. Despite missing a handful of its best wrestlers, the Admirals finished fifth among the 17-team field with 164.5 points. Maryville was team tournament champ with 223 points.

THE CHAMPS

As for Dix’s performance in the championship match, “that match just kept getting closer,” FHS co-head coach Joe Knox said. “It’s just hard to get that (Maryville) kid to open up, the kid just stalls the whole time. They went into double-overtime the last time they wrestled, Scott won.”

FHS’s Chad Turner at 152, ranked sixth in the state in Division I, beat Brandon Harless of Karns 22-11 for the Halls title.

“Chad Turner, he’s really been finishing matches off,” said FHS co-head coach Kerry Ferguson, adding that Turner’s record improved to 21-4 following the tourney title. “He’s real aggressive, and we’re real proud of the way he’s wrestling. He’s probably one of our most intense wrestlers.”

Junior Chad Blankenship, second-seeded in the tournament at 160, said his 9-5 championship victory against top-seeded Chris Campbell of Seymour was one of the biggest wins in his wrestling career.

“It was all so fast-paced,” Blankenship said of a series of moves that helped turn a 2-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead late in the second period that he would never lose. Blankenship’s record improved to 35-8 overall according to his coaches.

“Blankenship, he’s just been on a roll lately,” said coach Ferguson. “He’s better and better every week. Every week he takes it to the next level. He’s right where he needs to be.”

The Blankenship-Campbell match was voted the tournament’s “best match.”

OTHER TOP EFFORTS

“Everybody had a great tournament,” coach Knox said. “We had a big win in the semis with Chuck Layton (130), he beat a kid from Maryville who beat him in the Maryville duals. Chuck totally dominated him.” Layton took second after being pinned by Alex Cate of Halls in the championship match.

Despite a tough semifinal loss, “Paul Mountain wrestled real good for third (place),” Knox said. “It was kind of discouraging in the semis, but I think he needed that match to kind of wake him up.”

Other top Admirals included Nic Montgomery, who finished sixth at 135, and Brandon Lazarus’ eighth-place finish finish at 215.

INJURIES

Farragut had yet another experienced and proven wrestler go down with an injury. This time it was Ryan Farinella at 145, suffering a knee injury Saturday during the quarterfinal round.

“He was beating him real bad before he had an injury default,” coach Knox said about Farinella’s quarterfinal match against Yoseph Beki of Brentwood Academy, who went on to finish second.

Unable to come back Saturday, Farinella earned seventh-place. The extent of his injury was not known as of press time.

“I’ve been wrestling since I was five-years-old and I’ve never seen anything like it,” coach Knox said about the team’s long list of injuries, a perspective quickly shared by coach Ferguson.

Junior Justin Knox continues to be ranked second in the state at 171 despite being out since early December with a toe injury.

Highly-regarded FHS senior Erick Abercrombie (112) also missed Saturday’s tournament due to a knee injury.

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