E.A. Sports Today

Competitors, but not enemies

Weaver takes down two familiar foes in tri-match

Weaver's Nick Souder (L) and Alexandria's Christian Knop, 30-win wrestlers in different weight classes from different schools, share a common story during Thursday's tri-match at Alexandria.

Weaver’s Nick Souder (L) and Alexandria’s Christian Knop, 30-win wrestlers in different weight classes from different schools, share a common story during Thursday’s tri-match at Alexandria.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

ALEXANDRIA — Back in the late 90s when Weaver coach Andy Fulmer was wrestling any civil interaction between competitors from different schools was virtually unheard of.

You met on the mat, got it on for six minutes or less and then retreated to be with your teammates. It was so that way Fulmer remembers once at a state finals a winning competitor attempted to embrace him on the podium and he was ready to go a couple more rounds.

“I told him to get away from me or I’d punch him in the face,” Fulmer said.

The sport has so evolved from that.

The action on the mat Thursday was intense, but once the referee raises the arm of the victor and the wrestlers left the circle, there was an air of civility throughout the gym that reflects the commonality of their pursuit.

At the end of the tri-match with Weaver and Ohatchee, Alexandria 160 Christian Knop and Weaver 106 Nick Souder — a couple of 30-win underclassmen — were sharing a light moment while collecting their gear.

But the mingling of competition and camaraderie — comparaderie — just wasn’t in the Valley Cubs’ old gym. Just the other day Fulmer recalls Weaver heavyweight Caleb Allison and Ohatchee’s Hunter Barclay engaging in a spirited conversation just prior to facing each other.

“The way wrestling is now it’s so competitive that people are buddies now outside of whether you wrestle for the (same) school or not,” Fulmer said. “The nature of the sport has changed; more competitive.

“The kids genuinely I think pull for each other from other schools because you develop a friendship or a brotherhood and your really good kids a lot of times spend a lot of time outside the high school wrestling at different locations together.

“I’d love to see (Alexandria coaches) Frank (Hartzog) and Jake (Taylor) and all them do well out here because they’re both Weaver products and if they do well then it’s a reflection of what Coach (Gene) Taylor did. I always pull for them over anybody else. I don’t mind them finishing second as long as I win. They’re the same way.”

Knop had no hesitation moving toward Souder once the initial sting of the Valley Cubs’ 69-12 loss to the Bearcats dissipated. Both won both of their bouts by fall.

“I’ve known him since I was in fifth grade, so we’ve grown pretty close in the wrestling world; we’re at the same wrestling club,” Knop, an eighth-grader said.

As for Thursday, Weaver swept both its matches, coming from behind to beat Ohatchee 45-30 before taking down the host Cubs. Ohatchee defeated Alexandria 61-18 to complete the action.

In the highly anticipated Weaver-Ohatchee match, the Indians opened a 21-12 lead behind pins from Jimmy Wilson, Kevin Griffith and Josh Sexton, but the Bearcats rallied by winning six of the final eight bouts.

“I look at the score, but I really look at the effort; that’s my main thing,” Ohatchee coach Matt Sweatman said. “I tell my kids you give me six minutes I’ve got nothing to say. Weaver’s won like 10 state championship in a row, for us to get out there for six minutes with us being there only three years giving them everything they want, I’m excited.”

In addition to Knop and the once-beaten Souder, other wrestlers who won twice on the mat included Ohatchee’s Josh Sexton, Dalton Crider and Caleb Montgomery, and Weaver’s Christian Pettus and Chase Rogers. Crider and Rogers each picked up two pins.

All three teams return to action Saturday at the third annual Creek Bank Classic. Ohatchee has finished second in its own tournament each of the last two years – to Weaver.

(Cover photo: Weaver’s Jacob Howard controls his 152-pound match with Ohatchee’s Austin Snelling. Howard scored a fall.)

Ohatchee 61, Alexandria 18

106 – Fletcher Swindall (A) pinned Tanner Brown.
113 – Jimmy Wilson (O) won by forfeit.
120 – Kevin Griffith (O) won by forfeit.
126 – Josh Sexton (O) def. Aaron Whitaker, 7-0.
132 – Jackson Henry (O) def. Gannon Womack, 5-2.
138 – Peyton Entriken (O) won by forfeit.
145 – Dalton Crider (O) pinned Brandon Heard.
152 – Austin Snelling (O) won by forfeit.
160 – Christian Knop (A) pinned Jud Cash.
170 – Hayden Pitts (O) won by forfeit.
182 – Aaron Worrell (O) won by forfeit.
195 – Jack McCormick (A) pinned Aaron Woodall.
220 – Caleb Montgomery (O) pinned Daniel Longoria.
285 – Dakota Pruitt (O) won by forfeit.

Weaver 45, Ohatchee 30

106 – Nick Souder (W) pinned Tanner Brown.
113 – Jimmy Wilson (O) pinned Josh Lowe.
120 – Kevin Griffin (O) pinned Taylor Ward.
126 – Josh Sexton (O) pinned Drake Monroe.
132 – Christian Pettus (W) def. Jackson Henry, 6-2.
138 – Kyle Clapper (W) pinned Aubrey Hayes.
145 – Dalton Crider (O) pinned Stefan Kirby.
152 – Jacob Howard (W) pinned Austin Snelling.
160 – Logan Johnson (W) pinned Jud Cash.
170 – Hayden Pitts (O) def. Tyler Johnson, 9-7.
182 – Collin Allison (W) pinned Jeffie Worrell.
195 – Chase Rogers (W) pinned Aaron Woodall.
220 – Caleb Montgomery (O) def. Matt Elston, 7-3.
285 – Caleb Allison (W) pinned Dakota Pruitt.

Weaver 69, Alexandria 12

106 – Nick Souder (W) pinned Fletcher Swindall.
113 – Josh Lowe (W) won by forfeit.
120 – Taylor Ward (W) won by forfeit.
126 – Christian Pettus (W) def. Aaron Whitaker, 4-2.
132 – Gannon Womack (A) pinned Drake Monroe.
138 – Kyle Clapper (W) won by forfeit.
145 – Stefan Kirby (W) pinned Brandon Heard.
152 – Jacob Howard (W) won by forfeit.
160 – Christian Knop (A) pinned Logan Johnson.
170 – Tyler Johnson (W) won by forfeit.
182 – Collin Allison (W) won by forfeit.
195 – Chase Rogers (W) pinned Jake McCormick.
220 – Matt Elson (W) pinned Daniel Longoria.
285 – Caleb Allison (W) won by forfeit.

Two wee wrestlers in action during youth wrestling in conjunction with Alexandria's tri-match Thursday.

Two wee wrestlers in action during youth wrestling in conjunction with Alexandria’s tri-match Thursday.

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