E.A. Sports Today

County wrestlers back on the mat

UPDATED: County Tournament back after a year’s absence; Oxford has most top seeds

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

An act of nature may have kept the wrestlers from competing for a county championship last year, but the absence only served to heighten their drive in the event’s return tonight.

Winter weather scuttled last year’s Calhoun County Wrestling Championships leaving the field to wrestle with a variety of emotions. One team was left to wait two years to defend its title, another had to wait a year to compete in the event for the first time and the others were just plain anxious to get back on the mat.

The action at Weaver High School is set to begin sometime around 4:30 p.m. To get the tournament done in a day, two gyms and three mats will be in use. The title bouts will be staged in the main gym.

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, but officials moved it to provide a larger buffer for the sectionals.

The team race is expected to be a tight one among defending champion Oxford, Weaver and Ohatchee. The Yellow Jackets have the top seed in six weight classes (115, 122, 140, 147, 162, 184), while the other two have three each (Weaver at 108, 197, 222; Ohatchee at 128, 172, 287). Saks has the other two No. 1 seeds (134, 154).

It used to be a given Weaver would win the team crown, but the sport has exploded in the county and those days are long gone. The Bearcats haven’t won it since the mid-2000s.

“Coach (Gene) Taylor’s teams were a well-oiled machine and we’re trying to get it back to that status,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “But the sport has grown; the competition is not the same. It ought to be really competitive.”

Many of the late-round bouts are expected to have a state championship type feel.

The hottest individual competition is expected to come at the top and bottom of the lineup – in weight classes 108 and 287.

Weaver’s once-beaten Nick Souder is the top seed at 108, but two of the other top four seeds in the eight-man bracket have 50 wins each and the other, second-seeded Wesley Slick, comes from the biggest school in town.

Ohatchee’s Hunter Barclay is the top seed at heavyweight, but he is coming off a tight loss to second-seeded Caleb Allison of Weaver, and Jamie Crutcher of Piedmont and Oxford’s Clay Webb cannot be ignored.

“They are so evenly matched among the top three or four seeds that anybody could come out victorious,” tournament director Jeremy Waters said. “You could get a 4-seed have a good run.

“It’s going to sound like a cliché but it’s who wants it the most. Right now it’s not so much skill vs. skill as it is will vs. will. The skill set is about going to be equal. At the first of the year you might could be able to pick it, but now it’s hard to choose a winner out of that.”

The weather denied Alexandria’s then-first-year program the chance to compete in the County Tournament for the first time last year. The Valley Cubs will be breaking out a new set of all-orange singlets for the occasion.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for guys and we’ll have some good matchups,” Cubs coach Frank Hartzog said. “We’re hoping for some redemption (from last week’s tournament at Saks) with (Fletcher) Swindall and (Lane) Trapp.”

Complete brackets and live results can be found at www.trackwrestling.com

(Top 4 seeds)

108: 1. Nick Souder, Weaver 52-1; 2. Wesley Slick, Oxford 27-9; 3. Jim Wilson, Ohatchee 50-8; 4. Fletcher Swindall, Alexandria 50-10.

115: 1. Hayden Carpenter, Oxford 46-14; 2. Kevin Griffith, Ohatchee 46.8; 3. Lane Trapp, Alexandria 47.5; 4. Brady Rinehard, Wellborn 22-5.

122: 1. Mason Blakeney, Oxford 33-8; 2. Josh Sexton, Ohatchee 46-7; 3. Drake Monroe, Weaver 25-24; 4. Kalum Smith, Piedmont 8-11.

128: 1. Payton Entrekin, Ohatchee 13-2; 2. Gannon Womack, Alexandria 34-21; 3. Matthew Lindsey, Wellborn 14-8; 4. Jeffrey Finley, Saks 16-22.

134: 1. Andrew Kilgore, Saks 31-7; 2. Justin Conner, Wellborn 21-7; 3. Quintez Pearson, Oxford 43-16; 4. Christian Doss, Piedmont 15-14.

140: 1. Matt King, Oxford 43-3; 2. Kyle Clapper, Weaver 40-8; 3. Josh Murray, Ohatchee 29-7; 4. Jonathan Oliphant, Saks 25-14.

147: 1. Speed Pitts, Oxford 20-9; 2. Jacob Howard, Weaver 48-6; 3. Ty Brown, Alexandria 32-12; 4. Clayton Connor, Wellborn 14-10.

154: 1. Taylor Brown, Saks 32-9; 2. Austin Snelling, Ohatchee 30-22; 3. Trey Snyder, Piedmont 15-12; 4. Gryce McDaniel, Oxford 22-21.

162: 1. Jacob Shake, Oxford 46-6; 2. Christian Knop, Alexandria 54-10; 3. Logan Johnson, Weaver, 31-15; 4.Devionte Grant, Saks 18-16.

172: 1 Hayden Pitts, Ohatchee 47-12; 2. Tyler Johnson, Weaver 31-13; 3. Ethan Handy, Saks 27-14; 4. Logan Smith, Piedmont 16-14.

184: 1. Hunter Lee, Oxford 54-3; 2. Collin Allison, Weaver 41-8; 3. Skyler Nicholson, Piedmont 20-10; 4. Jeffie Worrell, Ohatchee 29-26.

197: 1. Chase Rodgers, Weaver 42-5; 2. Caleb Montgomery, Ohatchee 35-14; 3. Kane Pitts, Oxford 28-28; 4. Jack McCormick, Alexandria 12-13.

222: 1. Matt Elston, Weaver 36-14; 2. Steven Minniefield, Ohatchee 30-13; 3. Zack Davidson, Wellborn 10-9; 4. Jordan Brooks, Saks 4-22.

287: 1. Hunter Barclay, Ohatchee 43-3; 2. Caleb Allison, Weaver 45-6; 3. Jamie Crutcher, Piedmont 26-10; 4. Clay Webb, Oxford 33-20.

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