E.A. Sports Today

Aggressively seeking perfect


Alexandria freshman Knop ramps up his aggressive streak, takes undefeated record into super sectionals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

A year ago Christian Knop was an eighth-grader blowing up the mat. Even his coach was impressed with the way he went through the competition.

On the occasion of Knop’s 50th victory last season Alexandria coach Frank Hartzog remarked if Knop would be a little more aggressive, with his size and advanced development he would be unstoppable.

The young wrestler took those words to heart. He has become more aggressive and as he heads into this weekend’s South Super Sectionals in Montgomery the record shows he has been unstoppable.

At 48-0 he is one of only seven undefeated ranked wrestlers in the state (top six), one of only two in his Class 1A-5A 170-pound weight division and the only one in his weight class in the South section.

And it’s all because of the time he spent between finishing a tearful fourth in last year’s state championship meet and today working to be more of a tiger on the mat.

“I really wasn’t really aggressive last year; I was more defensive than offensive,” he said. “You see I had 14 losses (55-14) and I said that’s something I need to improve on over the summer. I started getting at it and here we are now.

“I felt like I was wrestling pretty good, but if I could be more aggressive I could be even better. It was a more laid-back type style but I had some trouble. I didn’t have trouble with technique but aggressive style didn’t really fit me last year, so I had to work on it.

“More aggressive equals better technique and performing the moves you need to finish. I just feel like (if) I go out with a warrior mindset and nobody can stop me.”

They haven’t so far. Knop has gone through everyone he’s faced on the varsity mat with little trouble. Counting the junior high/JV matches he’s had this season – remember, he’s only a ninth-grader — he’s 59-0.

The road to becoming a more aggressive wrestler began with a series of national-level tournaments in the summer and fall. He spends extra time on the mat, then goes home and pours over video of his previous matches looking for the slightest detail that could sharpen his edge.

He happily was going through video Sunday, in fact, while everyone else was sitting around watching the Super Bowl.

He has only been taken down once this high school season and the last time he lost on the mat anywhere was in an outside tournament on Halloween.

“I came in wanting to be undefeated,” Knop said. “I think about it all the time. It’s something I constantly think about and if I’m undefeated I’m going to be proud of it.”

If they stay the projected course, the end result is a state championship matchup with Dora’s Caleb Lauderdale, who currently also is undefeated. They’ve been bouncing between 1 and 2 in the rankings all season.

Knop said it would be “really awesome” if they both were unbeaten going into the title match. He already has a picture in his mind of how that’s going to be and is confident in his success.

On the cover: Alexandria freshman Christian Knop makes a move during the Lincoln tournament earlier this season in which he won his first varsity most valuable wrestler award.



106: 1. Zack Haynes, Tallassee (38-2); 2. Nolan Turner, Prattville Christian (17-13); 3. Jackson Howard, St. James (34-10); 4. Reed Hill, Ohatchee (39-13).

113. Nick Souder, Weaver (58-1); 2. Will Patterson, Moody (70-6); 3. Lane Trapp, Alexandria (26-4); 4. Jonovan Miller, Tallassee (35-6).

120: 1. Bryer Stewart, St. Clair Co. (47-4); 2. Fletcher Swindall, Alexandria (45-4); 3. Jacob van Northington, Prattville Christian (29-5); 4. Bruin Hathcock, Tallassee (31-6).

126: 1. Jordan Price, Tallassee (36-4); 2. Preston Jarrell, Cleburne County (28-4); 3. Michael Land, Moody (61-9); 4. Max Miller, St. Clair County (51-12).

132: 1. Zach VanAlst, Montgomery Catholic (45-1); 2. Austin Johnson, St. James (31-5); 3. Aaron Whitaker, Alexandria (39-7); 4. Robert Childress, Beauregard (46-7).

138: 1. Brady Richardson, Holtville (41-9); 2. Andrew Kilgore, Saks (32-4); 3. Chandler Teems, Leeds (22-6); 4. Drake Monroe, Weaver (46-20).

145: 1. Dawson Anderson, Leeds (46-3); 2. Geoffrey Murray, St. James (33-5); 3. Logan Burch, St. Clair County (19-4); 4. Kyle Clapper, Weaver (41-9).

152: 1. Ryan King, ASB (39-1); 2. Toren Pollard, Leeds (36-1); 3. Mason Pattie, St. James (29-5); 4. Taylor Brown, Saks (32-3).

160: 1. Gabriel Keating, Montgomery Catholic (38-9); 2. William White, Leeds (46-9); 3. Will Prater, St. James (35-8); 4. Alex Daar, Tallassee (30-8).

170: 1. Christian Knop, Alexandria (48-0); 2. Hudson Deem, Tallassee (17-8); 3. Arthur Patton, Leeds (34-6); 4. Samuel Pate, Cleburne County (28-8)

182: 1. Alex Nickell, Leeds (34-2); 2. Kane Pitts, Wellborn (22-1); 3. Chase Kelly, Moody (55-15); 4. Collin Allison, Weaver (54-7).

195: 1. Richard Williamson, St. James (41-0); 2. Chase Rodgers, Weaver (56-5); 3. Andy Baker, Tallassee (38-3); 4. Bryan Tutton, St. Clair County (43-9).

220: 1. Tre Nation, Leeds (37-4); 2. Caleb Montgomery, Ohatchee (45-5); 3. Matt Elston, Weaver (27-8); 4. Skyler Mizzell, St. Clair County (28-7)

285: 1. Caleb Allison, Weaver (56-3); 2. Jake Baker, Tallassee (21-3); 3. Josephus Smith, Leeds (26-0); 4. Zabian Smith, Lincoln (34-4).

106: 3. Landon Burrage, Oxford (27-15).

120: 2. Wesley Slick, Oxford (22-12).

138: Quintez Pearson, Oxford (39-10).

182: 4. Shane Denman, Oxford (18-17).

285: 3. Clay Webb, Oxford (12-2).

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