E.A. Sports Today

Souder, Wilson battle again, this time for it all

UPDATED: 106 pair among six Calhoun County wrestlers in title bouts; local teams vying for second place

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE – On the eve of his most important and defining bout of the season, Weaver sophomore Nick Souder thought it important to reflect on the only blemish on his record.

It was two months ago to the day Friday he suffered a 5-4 loss to Alexandria’s Fletcher Swindall in the semifinals of the Bearcats’ Gene Taylor Classic. Why in the world would you be thinking of that now, less than 24 hours before meeting Ohatchee’s Jimmy Wilson for the Class 1A-5A 106-pound state championship Saturday morning?

“I really think about that a lot,” he said. “It reminds me of what I do not want to happen again.

“It’s very important to remember those things. You remember that one loss, it’s going to remind you for the rest of your career, the rest of the season, to motivate you to get harder, work better and not lose to that kid again.”

Souder hasn’t lost to anyone again and now he and Wilson are two of six Calhoun County wrestlers who’ll be vying for state titles today at the VonBraun Center.

The others are Weaver’s Chase Rodgers (195), Ohatchee’s Hunter Barclay (285) and Oxford teammates Matt King (138) and Hunter Lee (182).

Rodgers (54-5) faces Christian Burtram of St. Clair County (38-11), Barclay takes on Leeds’ Josephus Smith (40-3), King (54-3) will take on Fort Payne’s Ian Hilyer (50-8), and Lee (63-3) faces Scottsboro’s Ryan Grider (47-7).

Perhaps none of the local combatants know more about their opponent than Souder (64-1) and Wilson (58-10). They’ve wrestled seven times this season, five in tournament finals, including the Calhoun County Tournament and South Super Sectional.

“I’ve got to wrestle smart,” Souder said. “He knows what I’m doing. He knows I’m going to come out strong. He knows my favorite move. He knows what I do on the top and the bottom. It’s just got to be a mental game.”

That shouldn’t be an issue for the sophomore in his first state title match. Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said Friday he has seen Souder ramp up his focus since that December loss and believes the wrestler is mentally “on more than I’ve ever seen before.”

Over in the Ohatchee camp, Indians coach Matt Sweatman is trying to get Wilson to forget about history. It’s all about Saturday.

“What I’ve been preaching to Jim all week is it doesn’t matter, all you have to do is win one; that’s the only one people will remember,” Sweatman said. “That’s kind of what we’re going with right now – the only one that counts is tomorrow. He’s had his mind set on this since he lost in the sectional finals last week.”

Barclay will be looking for a measure of revenge in his title bout. He lost to Smith in the sectionals last week.

King beat Hilyer in their only previous meeting, but Hilyer knocked off Arab’s top seed in last week’s Super Sectional. Lee’s match with Grider was the anticipated state final. He has beaten Grider twice this season, but Oxford coach Matt Tanner said it will be important for Lee to remain focused the entire match and not be overconfident.

After the action Friday, Weaver, Ohatchee and Oxford all appear to be battling for a second-place trophy today in their respective classifications.

Leeds leads in Class 1A-5A with 140.5 points. Madison County is second at 103.5, followed by Weaver (98.5), Ohatchee (91) and Cleburne County (88). Only 16.5 points separate second from sixth.

“I’ve got five kids who are going to wrestle (Saturday) to place and if we take care of business we could come away with a red trophy, possibly,” Fulmer said. “We’ve got to have a few things happen … I’m not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we’re at least in the mix and we wanted to give ourselves a chance to be in the mix.”

“It’s going to be close either way,” Sweatman said. “As long as my guys give me 100 percent that’s all I’m really concerned about.”

In Class 6A, Arab has all but locked up the title with 221.5 points. It holds more than a 100-point lead on second-place Oxford, but the Yellow Jackets are clinging to their spot by only two points over Southside-Gadsden. The Jackets have five wrestlers in action Saturday, Southside has six.

“We expected to compete for a title, but we didn’t wrestle to win one,” Tanner said. “I had conversation with the boys and told them we didn’t take care of business to earn the blue mat, now the best we can get is second … and we’ve got to take care of business to get it. We really need to win every one of those to make sure we have a chance to win it.”

Championship Match Pairings

Class 6A

106 pounds: Jacob Smith, Southside-Gadsden (49-1) vs. Ty Naquin Stanhope Elmore (39-2)

113 pounds: John McAlpin, Scottsboro (43-16) vs. Arick Shankles, Muscle Shoals (47-0)

120 pounds: Aaron Ledbetter, Chelsea (43-17) vs. Brennen Shankles, Muscle Shoals (38-9)

126 pounds: Vershone Graham, Wetumpka (42-4) vs. B.J. Hayes, Arab (57-5)

132 pounds: Landon Thompson, Southside-Gadsden (52-3) vs. Deandre Anderson, Hueytown (43-2)

138 pounds: Matt King, Oxford (54-3) vs. Ian Hilyer, Fort Payne (50-8)

145 pounds: Noah Bradford, Southside-Gadsden (49-4) vs. Javon Cortez, Arab (56-8)

152 pounds: Brett Clark, Scottsboro (58-4) vs. Hank Turner, Pinson Valley (62-2)

160 pounds: Austin Weldon, Clay-Chalkville (54-6) vs. Khaliq Jones, Wetumpka (40-1)

170 pounds: Deon Gregory, Pinson Va. (50-10) vs. Kade Kitchens, Southside-Gadsden (52-1)

182 pounds: Ryan Grider, Scottsboro (47-7) vs. Hunter Lee, Oxford (63-3)

195 pounds: Kashus Culpepper. Ben. Russell (49-1) vs. Dawson McDaniel, Arab (55-7)

220 pounds: Jacob Spencer, Arab (57-1) vs. Ashton Quattlebaum, Hartselle (48-3)

285 pounds: Daniel Bland, Ben. Russell (46-1) vs. Conner Griffin, Arab (38-3)

Class 1A-5A
106 pounds: Jim Wilson, Ohatchee (58-10) vs. Nick Souder, Weaver (64-1)

113 pounds: Recio Winchester, Dora (65-10) vs. Timothy Murphree, Fultondale (64-2)

120 pounds: Chase Phillips, Hayden (35-8) vs. Zachary Van alst, Montgomery Catholic (49-0)

126 pounds: Tyler Williams, Deshler (26-8) vs. Braxton Worthington, Mortimer Jordan (55-7).

132 pounds: Austin Everett, Dora (64-1) vs. Kennon Reese, Tallassee (49-4)

138 pounds: Toren Pollard, Leeds (49-1) vs. Chase Warren, Dora (60-4)

145 pounds: Christian Willoughby, J.B. Pennington (25-0) vs. Alec Cohen, Madison Co. (NA).

152 pounds: Alex Nickell, Leeds (51-5) vs. Tyler Mayfield, Cleburne County (42-2)

160 pounds: Ethan Pippin, Westminster (41-8) vs. Hunter Scott, Holtville (41-1)

170 pounds: Caleb Lauderdale, Dora (65-7) vs. Trevor Edwards, Madison County (32-2)

182 pounds: Greg Abramson, Mortimer Jordan (55-4) vs. Brett Staggs, Moody (66-3)

195 pounds: Chase Rodgers, Weaver (54-5) vs. Christian Burtram, Saint Clair Co. (38-11)

220 pounds: Alex Sandmann, Cleburne Co. (47-4) vs. Tre’ Nation, Leeds (35-4)

285 pounds: Josephus Smith, Leeds (40-3) vs. Hunter Barclay, Ohatchee (50-5)


1. Leeds 140.5, 2. Madison County 103.5, 3. Weaver 98.5, 4. Ohatchee 91, 5. Cleburne County 88, 6. Dora 87, 7. Saint James 78.5, 8. Saint Clair County 68, 9. Mortimer Jordan 66, 10. Deshler 62, 11. Hayden 60, 12. Fultondale 57, 13. Alexandria 51, 14. Sumiton Christian 50, 15. Helena 48, 16. (tie) Moody 45, Westminster Christian 45, 18. J.O. Johnson 43, 19. Oak Grove 35, 20. Montgomery Catholic 33.5, 21. J.B. Pennington 33, 22. Tallassee 31.5, 23. Holtville 29, 24. Susan Moore 24.5, 25. (tie) Piedmont 20, Springville 20, 27. Corner 19, 28. Calera 15.5, 29. (tie) Ashville 8, Lincoln 8, 31. (tie) Elmore County 7, Wellborn 7, 33. (tie) Alabama Sch. For Blind 6, Shelby County 6, 35. (tie) East Limestone 5, New Hope 5, Ranburne 5, Saks 5, 39. Butler 4, 40. (tie) Beauregard 3, Prattville Christian 3, 42. Curry 0.

Class 6A
1. Arab 221.5, 2. Oxford 119, 3. Southside-Gadsden 117, 4. Muscle Shoals 99, 5. Hartselle 95, 6. Homewood 92.5, 7. Benjamin Russell 84, 8. Scottsboro 82, 9. Athens 81.5, 10. Wetumpka 73, 11. Pelham 70.5, 12. Clay-Chalkville 67, 13. Pinson Valley 64.5, 14. Gardendale 48, 15. Stanhope Elmore 43.5, 16. Brookwood 38, 17. (tie) Hueytown 35.5, Opelika 35.5, 19. Fort Payne 35, 20. (tie) Austin 25, Russell County 25, 22. McAdory 23.5, 23. Chelsea 20, 24. Decatur 11, 25. (tie) Lee-Huntsville 6, Park Crossing 6, 27. Huffman 4.5, 28. Pell City 4, 29. Minor 3, 30. Paul Bryant 1, 31. (tie) Northridge 0, Selma 0, Shades Valley 0, Walker 0.

Class 7A
1. Thompson 125, 2. Vestavia Hills 100, 3. Hewitt-Trussville 69.5, 4. Oak Mountain 68.5, 5. Prattville 61.5, 6. Tuscaloosa County 49.5, 7. Auburn 47, 8. James Clemens 45.5, 9. Hoover 42, 10. Mountain Brook 36, 11. Central-Phenix City 28, 12. Spain Park 23, 13. Huntsville 16, 14. Buckhorn 15, 15. Jeff Davis 8, 16. (tie) Grissom 7, Smiths Station 7, 18. Sparkman 5, 19. Bob Jones 0.

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