E.A. Sports Today

Knop nifty at 50

Cubs eighth-grader hits milestone; Ohatchee sweeps three; Weaver wins

Alexandria eighth-grader Christian Knop (R) and coach Frank Hartzog review the results of Thursday night's matches. Knop went 3-0 at 160 to become the first wrestler in school history to win 50 times in a season.

Alexandria eighth-grader Christian Knop (R) and coach Frank Hartzog review the results of Thursday night’s matches. Knop went 3-0 at 160 to become the first wrestler in school history to win 50 times in a season.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When Christian Knop was younger, so much younger than today, he would marvel at wrestlers with 50 or more wins on their record and think what a neat feat that would be to accomplish.

Now he’s one of those guys and people are marveling at him.

The Alexandria eighth-grader became the first wrestler from his school ever to reach 50 wins in a season Thursday when he went 3-0 with two pins and a forfeit in a multi-team match with Wellborn, Cleburne County and Gadsden City.

“It was a goal I had set before the season started, so to accomplish that is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Knop said. “I was making sure that I knew when I got to 50 matches so I could celebrate it.”

Knop is now 51-10 for the season. He secured win No. 49 by pinning Javaris Graves of Gadsden City and hit the milestone with a pin of Cleburne County’s Graham Cheatwood. He was awarded a forfeit against Wellborn. He has 37 pins this season.

As for the matches, the Valley Cubs beat Gadsden City 36-15 and fell to Cleburne County 55-21 and Wellborn 42-27. Wellborn beat Gadsden City 57-18 and lost to Cleburne County 72-9.

“I was looking forward to getting more wins than last year, because I only had 21,” Knop said. “To surpass 50 … is the best feeling on the world. It feels like a big accomplishment.”

He is the fourth wrestler in Calhoun County to hit the 50 mark this season. The others are Oxford’s Matt King, Jacob Shake and Hunter Lee. Nick Souder of Weaver is 49-1.

“Fifty wins is huge,” Alexandria coach Frank Hartzog said. “I remember w-a-a-a-ay back when I wrestled (at Weaver) there were a couple guys who went like 52-0, but I think we wrestle more now; we have more matches.

“I’m happy that he’s got 50 and he’s happy, but I don’t think he’s even thinking about that. Honestly, I think he’s more focused on who are the guys who beat me and what do I have to do to beat them. At least I hope he is.”

Knop plays no other sport beyond wrestling at Alexandria and that singular focus has made him a formidable wrestler at 160. If he would get a little more aggressive he could do even more.

“He lives, sleeps, eats, breathes wrestling; he loves it,” Hartzog said. “There are some people who are basketball players. There are some people who are football players. He’s a wrestler. He’s just got everything you need in a wrestler.

“And a lot of people who wrestle him have no clue he’s an eighth grader. Eighth graders don’t typically do well at 160 pounds. You say ‘eighth grader,’ you think it’s 120, 130 (pounds), so it’s amazing. … He does things that no other guy that I’ve ever seen wrestle can pull off. It’s just his way of doing it.”

Knop is a second cousin of former NFL All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis. If he could let go of his reactive style and grow into being as assertive as his famous relative on the mat Hartzog is convinced Knop could do “a lot of things that would shock” people.

“I could see him as a multiple state champion,” Hartzog said.

Knop already has his sights on the next milestone.

“Seventy-five wins and I’ll be happy,” he said.

Ohatchee wraps up duals season with sweep in Howard’s curtain call

LINCOLN — Ohatchee completed the dual portion of its schedule with a three-match sweep on Lincoln’s senior night that marked the return for one final run for two-time Bears state champion Jamario Howard.

The Indians swamped Lincoln 72-4, ASB 60-12 and 69-12 to finish 28-5 in dual matches. They won 22 dual matches the year before and four in their inaugural season.

Jimmy Wilson and Josh Sexton both wrestled up in their three matches and went 3-0. Heavyweight Hunter Barclay wrestled Austin Blanton in a match that really had Indians coach Matt Sweatman concerned, but Barclay scored 10 quick points and eventually recorded a pin in the first period.

“It was (Blanton’s) Senior Night so I was concerned about that,” Sweatman said, “but (Barclay) looked in midseason form. He looked like he needed to look.”

The night, though, belonged to Howard. He tore an ACL during the football season, returned to give wrestling a shot and hurt the knee again at the Rumble in the Jungle in Heflin. He announced shortly thereafter he had wrestled his last match, but returned for a curtain call Thursday.

He shed the knee brace and scored a major decision over Ohatchee sophomore Austin Snelling in his final bout. He is said to be scheduled for surgery next week.

“That was a special moment; I was glad I was there to see it,” Sweatman said. “He shared a hug with his coach and his teammates. It was real touching.

“You hate to lose. When you lose to a kid as talented and special with the resume he’s got, not being pinned is a pretty big challenge.”

Weaver wins dual; scoring review drops it to third on weekend

WEAVER – The Bearcats scored six pins, including five in the last six weight classes, to defeat Ashville 45-16. They got pins from Kyle Clapper (138), Logan Johnson (160), Tyler Johnson (170), Collin Allison (182), Matt Elston (220) and Caleb Allison (285).

Over the weekend the Bearcats left St. Clair County believing they had finished second in the Jeremy Ragsdale Invitational, but there was a problem with the meet scoring and upon further review they were informed they finished third, a half-point behind runnerup Pinson Valley.

The new math gave Pinson Valley 151 points and Weaver 150.5. Oxford remained fourth at 148.5. Weaver’s Nick Souder and Oxford’s Hunter Lee won their weight classes.

“It’s one of those things,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “I thought the kids handled it well. It was something we couldn’t control; it wasn’t in our hands. I think it’s kind of humorous how it ended up. The positive thing is we were the top 1A-5A team there – and we still placed in the top three.”

Don’t count on the Bearcats going back next year.

Alexandria 36, Gadsden City 15

106 – Fletcher Swindall (A) won by forfeit; 113 – Lane Trapp (A) won by forfeit; 120 – Double forfeit; 126 – Gannon Womack (A) won by forfeit; 132 – Double forfeit; 138 – Ricky Tillis (GC) won by forfeit; 145 – Ty Brown (A) won by forfeit; 152 – Double forfeit; 160 – Christian Knop pinned Javaris Graves; 170 – Shamar Hunt (GC) def. Anthony Knop, 13-9 (OT); 182 – Roderick Guice (GC) won by forfeit; 195 – Jack McCormick (A) won by forfeit; 220 – Double forfeit; HWT – Double forfeit.

Cleburne County 55, Alexandria 21

106 – Fletcher Swindall (A) def. Dylan Turner, 6-0; 113 – Lane Trapp (A) pinned Austin Turner; 120 – Preston Jarrell (CC) won by forfeit; 126 – Gannon Womack (A) pinned Zack Williamson; 132 – Noah Beam (CC) won by forfeit; 138 – Corey Davis (CC) won by forfeit; 145 – Sam Cooper (CC) pinned Ty Brown; 152 – Tyler Mayfield (CC) won by forfeit; 160 – Christian Knop (A) pinned Graham Cheatwood; 170 – Sam Pate (CC) def. Anthony Knop, 11-1; 182 – Brandon Rogers (CC) won by forfeit; 195 – Travis Bell (CC) def. Jack McCormick, 7-4; 220 – Alex Sandman (CC) won by forfeit; HWT – Trevor Ivey (CC) won by forfeit.

Cleburne County 72, Wellborn 9

106 – Dylan Turner (CC) pinned Namath Pitts; 113 – Brady Rinehard (W) def. Austin Turner, 4-2; 120 – Preston Jarrell (CC) def. Hunter Ray, retired; 126 – Matthew Lindsey (W) pinned Zack Williamson; 132 – Noah Beam (CC) pinned Justin Conner; 138 – Corey Davis (CC) pinned Justin Roblee; 145 – Sam Cooper (CC) pinned Clayton Conner; 152 – Tyler Mayfield (CC) won by forfeit; 160 – Graham Cheatwood (CC) won by forfeit; 170 – Sam Pate (CC) pinned Gage Taber; 182 – Brandon Rogers (CC) won by forfeit; 195 – Travis Bell (CC) pinned Zack Chandler; 220 – Alex Sandman (CC) pinned Zack Davison; HWT – Trevor Ivey (CC) pinned J.C. Cooper.

Wellborn 57, Gadsden City 8

106 – Namath Pitts (W) won by forfeit; 113 – Brady Rinehard (W) won by forfeit; 120 – Wellborn won by forfeit; 126 – Matthew Lindsey (W) won by forfeit; 132 – Justin Conner (W) won by forfeit; 138 – Justin Roblee (W) def. Ricky Tillis, 11-10; 145 – Clayton Connor (W) won by forfeit; 152 – J.W. Hill (W) won by forfeit; 160 – Javaris Graves (GC) won by forfeit; 170 – Shamar Hunt (GC) pinned Gage Taber; 182 – Roderick Guice (GC) won by forfeit; 195 – Zack Chandler (W) won by forfeit; 220 – Zack Davison (W) won by forfeit; HWT – J.C. Cooper (W) won by forfeit.

Other scores
Wellborn 42, Alexandria 27

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