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Alexandria’s young wrestling program shows it belongs with win over Piedmont

Alexandria's Fletcher Swindall is moments from pinning Piedmont's Solomon Doss to open the Valley Cubs' groundbreaking 57-24 victory. On the cover, Alexandria coach Frank Hartzog (center) and Piedmont's Harley Lamey (left) go over their lineups.

Alexandria’s Fletcher Swindall is moments from pinning Piedmont’s Solomon Doss to open the Valley Cubs’ groundbreaking 57-24 victory. On the cover, Alexandria coach Frank Hartzog (center) and Piedmont’s Harley Lamey (left) go over their lineups.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When you have an emerging program looking to grab the slightest handhold on a mountain already crowded with some of the top programs in the state every victory is important. But certainly some are more significant than others.

Alexandria’s second-year wrestling team posted one of those signature wins Wednesday, beating Piedmont 57-24 in an old-gym matinee packed out by the entire student body.

You just can’t buy that kind of exposure.

“Anytime you can win with all these kids here watching and seeing us be successful at any level — they don’t know anything about wrestling – is a recruiting tool that we desperately need,” Cubs coach Frank Hartzog said. “We have 16 kids. It’s kind of hard to fill a lineup with 16 kids.

“I guess I was happy with the performance. I guess I don’t look at it as, well, we beat Piedmont, a team that was state champions a few years ago (2009). I just look at it like we beat a team that we should being 5A; you would think based on that alone we should have bigger numbers. But we don’t. That’s what my mind focuses on.”

It has been a long road for Hartzog, a four-time state champion at Weaver, to bring the sport to Alexandria. What started as a pitch from an elementary school counselor for potential after-school activities for students morphed into a successful youth program, inquiries into starting a high school program and, last year, the green light to go varsity.

It’s still such a new activity Hartzog still find people surprised the Valley Cubs have a wrestling program – even when he wears something that carries ‘Alexandria wrestling’ on it – but enjoys every chance to enlighten them.

“We were that team at one time, starting out trying to find a signature win, if you want to call it that,” Piedmont coach Harley Lamey said. “They’ve got a good youth program that feeds their high school and they’ve got some outstanding coaches. They’ve got a lot of heart.

“It’s definitely growing a lot more than it was. A lot of those teams that are popping up, you’ve got parents who are there to help with the youth program and get it started. Once the ball gets rolling, you get other kids excited about it and it kind of feeds itself and starts growing. That’s what happening right now.”

The Valley Cubs had a winning dual match record last year and sent three wrestlers to the state tournament, but before Wednesday afternoon the biggest dual match victory in their short history was one over Wellborn last year with several walkovers.

And while they began this match with a 24-12 lead because of the weight classes that went empty, they still won the first five contested bouts – four by fall — to secure the victory.

Ty Brown’s pin at 145 clinched the match. Fletcher Swindall, Gannon Womack, Christian Knop and Josh Longoria also won by fall for Alexandria, while Matthew Schmaltz won a decision.

“It’s a big win,” Brown said. “We all did our hardest. We knew they were going to be tough; we had to get pumped up and get everybody ready. It feels great.”

“Just a big accomplish for a young wrestling program like this,” Knop said.

Alexandria 57, Piedmont 24

106 – Fletcher Swindall (A) pinned Solomon Doss
113 – John Studdard (P) won by forfeit
126 – Matthew Schmaltz (A) def. Kalum Smith, 8-3
132 – Aaron Whitaker (A) won by forfeit
138 – Gannon Womack (A) pinned Daniel Hunt
145 – Ty Brown (A) pinned Christian Doss
152 – Anthony Knop (A) won by forfeit
160 – Christian Knop (A) pinned Evan Cooper
170 – Logan Smith (P) won by forfeit
182 – Skyler Nicholson (P) pinned Casey Brooks
195 – Christian Ford (A) won by forfeit
220 – Jaden Amberson (P) pinned Daniel Longoria
285 – Josh Longoria (A) pinned Jamie Crutcher

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