E.A. Sports Today

Third time King’s charm

After two finals disappointments, Oxford freshman finally has his state championship

Oxford's Matt King stands on the podium with a copy of the 6A 138-pound weight class he dominating to win the state championship.

Oxford’s Matt King stands on the podium with a copy of the 6A 138-pound weight class he dominating to win the state championship.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE — The third time was a charm for Matt King, and now he’s hoping it’s something he never lets go.

The Oxford freshman finally claimed a state wrestling title Saturday after failed attempts in the finals each of the previous two years.

He won the Class 6A 138 title with a first-period pin of Ian Hilyer of Fort Payne.

“I felt a lot better before I went out this match than any of the others,” King said. “I felt like I could win this one. I felt I had it in me and I wasn’t real nervous when I went out there.”

Doing what coach Matt Tanner called “what he does best,” King jumped on Hilyer early and stayed on top throughout. His previous two appearances in the finals both ended in decisions.

“That’s usually my approach in every match,” he said. “I try to get the first takedown. My dad told me when I was young the first takedown wins the match and that’s pretty much stayed with me from (age) 3 to now.”

King’s focus for the season narrowed during the weeks of the team’s holiday trip to Charleston. He hadn’t wrestled well the week before in Georgia, but faced the toughest competition he had all season in South Carolina and won the tournament, and Tanner told him if he continued to wrestle that way in every match going forward he’d be successful.

“Our thing was you’ve got to continue to wrestle at that level (against) everybody you wrestle in Alabama,” Tanner said. “So we came back here … expecting to dadgum win. That’s his third trip here. The third time’s the charm.

“We’ve been in this the whole time trying to find ways to get better and … trying to find places to go to get him opportunities to wrestle at a tremendous level … so he has to wrestle like that before the state tournament. He grew up a lot this year.”

Now King’s focus is on winning four in a row. Saturday was the start.



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