E.A. Sports Today

Grappling for a crown

Weaver, Alexandria spearhead what might be the tightest Calhoun County Wrestling Championship in years

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — For as long as anyone can remember the Weaver wrestling program has been the one all others in the county have aspired to emulate. Now, the Bearcats have become a victim of their own success.

As the sport has evolved in Calhoun County, all the teams the Bearcats have spawned are catching up to them. As hard as it might be to believe it’s been a while since Weaver has won a county championship.

That may change today as the Bearcats are one of the favorites in what is projected to be one of the closest county races in years.

“I think we have a shot, I expect to, but it’s just going to depend on the kids, if they’re ready when they show up as far as their mentality,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “I feel like we should. I’ve got a lot of older guys and I think they’re ready to put us back on the map and try to show that we can be dominant again.”

The Bearcats haven’t won a county title since Fulmer took over the program from legendary Gene Taylor in 2005. They came close a couple times — none closer than the year they lost a tight duals race over a penalty point – but have never taken home the trophy.

“I don’t remember winning it,” Fulmer said. “For me, taking over the program with all the history, it is a void. My kids expect to win and they’re going to do their best and wrestle as hard as we can.”

This year’s tournament is expected to be on of the closest since it has gone to its current eight-man bracket format. Weaver is ranked No. 2 in the latest 1A-5A team poll; Alexandria is No. 5 and coach Frank Hartzog concedes “we’ve got a shot.” Wellborn is a darkhorse.

The Valley Cubs, fresh off a title in the ASB tournament, are strong in the early weights and Weaver is strong in the heavier weights. Both teams have five No. 1 needs entering the tournament. Weaver has three of them in the final four weight divisions; Alexandria has them in four of the first five.

The key to displacing Oxford as two-time reigning champion could be the difference in scoring a pin over a decision and the early-round losers wrestling back for a third-place finish instead of a fourth.

“Of all the years I’ve coached this is probably our best opportunity so far of being able to become county champs,” Fulmer said. “I’ve had some really good teams but this is probably the group.

“This group is different. When you look at them you don’t think anything major. A lot of guys don’t look like they’re killers but they’re real knowledgeable and they get after it. They don’t give up, they fight all the time, which is all I ask of them.”

Here are the four seeded wrestlers in each weight division:

108: 1. Jimmy Wilson, Alexandria, 11-0; 2. Reed Hill, Ohatchee, 26-12; 3. Cody Souder, Weaver, 19-9; 4. Landon Burrage, Oxford, 0-0.

115: 1. Nick Souder, Weaver, 43-1; 2. Lane Trapp, Alexandria, 8-0; 3. Sammy Cotton, Wellborn, 9-6; 4. Peyton Marrs, Ohatchee, 11-13.

122: 1. Fletcher Swindall, Alexandria, 21-2; 2. Brady Rinehard, Wellborn 10-4; 3. Thomas Brown, Saks, 12-11; 4. Ian Markham, Weaver, 12-25.

128: 1. Matthew Schmaltz, Alexandria, 18-5; 2. Hunter Ray, Wellborn, 8-5; 3. Jackson Henry, Ohatchee, 0-0; 4. Taylor Ward, Weaver, 7-12.

134: 1. Aaron Whittaker, Alexandria, 17-5; 2. Drake Monroe, Weaver, 34-13; 3. Josh Sexton, Ohatchee, 0-0; 4. Jeffrey Finley, Saks, 8-10.

140: 1. Andrew Kilgore, Saks, 19-3; 2. Quintez Pearson, Oxford, 0-0; 3. Justin Roblee, Wellborn, 11-4; 4. Langdon Smith, Alexandria, 5-10.

147: 1. Kyle Clapper, Weaver, 29-9; 2. Jonathan Oliphant, Saks, 17-4; 3. Justin Conner, Wellborn, 12-3; 4. Judson Cash, Alexandria, 12-8.

154: 1. Taylor Brown, Saks, 18-3; 2. Clayton Conner, Wellborn, 8-3; 3. Brannon Bellar, Weaver, 19-17; 4. Cobey McFry, Piedmont, 0-0.

162: 1. Matt King, Oxford, 0-0; 2. Hayden Pitts, Ohatchee, 21-8; 3. Devionte Garrett, Saks, 10-4; 4. Michael Lindblom, Weaver, 2-1.

172: 1. Christian Knop, Alexandria, 22-0; 2. Rudney Reddick, Saks, 13-6; 3. Tyler Johnson, Weaver, 16-10; 4. Gage Taber, Wellborn, 5-6.

184: 1. Collin Allison, Weaver, 40-4; 2. Kane Pitts, Wellborn, 9-0; 3. Dawson Wells, Saks, 9-10; 4. Austin Snelling, Ohatchee, 2-5.

197: 1. Chase Rodgers, Weaver, 40-3; 2. Zachery Chandler, Wellborn, 12-3; 3. Ethen Handy, Saks, 16-7; 4. Jarquez Minniefield, Ohatchee, 1-5.

222: 1. Caleb Montgomery, Ohatchee, 31-5; 2. Matt Elston, Weaver, 25-7; 3. Jack McCormick, Alexandria, 13-6; 4. Joshua Thomas, Oxford, 0-0.

287: 1. Caleb Allison, Weaver, 39-2; 2. Clay Webb, Oxford, 0-0; 3. Jamie Crutcher, Piedmont, 0-0; 4. Josh Longoria, Alexandria, 0-0.

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