E.A. Sports Today

Unfinished business

Weaver freshman Allison finally gets to state wrestling championship, looking to make up for lost time



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Every wrestler at this week’s state championship meet in Huntsville has his own reason to be excited about being there, but Caleb Allison may have one of the strongest.

The Weaver heavyweight goes into the Von Braun Center Thursday with a lot of unfinished business, which on the surface sounds strange considering he is only a freshman. But he’s been so close before.

Allison was considered a serious contender for the Class 1A-5A state title last year as an eighth-grader when his season was derailed after breaking his collarbone in practice the day before the Calhoun County Tournament. And the year before he missed it by one spot when they only took four from each section.

Everything he has done since getting hurt has been geared to getting back to this spot.

“What happened last year pushed me a little harder to go this year,” Allison said after arriving at the team hotel Wednesday night. “I’ve kept it in the back of my mind, it’s always pushing me to go harder.”

The injury wasn’t the only thing that driving him. He stood respectfully on the edge of the mat during last year’s heavyweight championship match between Leeds’ Josephus Smith and Ohatchee’s Hunter Barclay, two wrestlers he had beaten during the season.

“It made me a little sad knowing I could’ve been in that spot,” he admitted.

Allison was an impressive 45-6 when he got hurt last year, presumably aggravating an old football injury. This year he is 59-4. He comes into the tournament is the No. 2 qualifier out of the South, having lost a 3-2 decision to Smith in the sectional final Saturday.

“To come back and be 59-4 right now says a lot about the time and effort he’s put in, especially in the weight room,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “As far as technique and knowledge of the sport, he has that; the weight room is where he got after it and kind of turned the corner from where he was last year. He’s matured physically and I think him suffering that injury helped him to grow mentally.”

It won’t be an easy road to the finals. His side of the bracket includes Tallassee’s Jake Baker (36-3) and Oak Grove’s North section champion Zach Turner (68-3) in the mix. They are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the latest Southeast Wrestling rankings with Allison in between.

Allison has beaten Turner 2-1 this season and split with Baker. His first match Thursday is against Piedmont’s Javien Woods (16-9).

“I’m just going to take it one match at a time; that’s probably the best way to do it,” he said. “I do have the Tallassee and Oak Grove guys. If I’m going through to the final I have to go through them anyway.”

Most eyes will be watching Fultondale sophomore 106 Macon Edwards’ bid to run the table and extend his single-season state record to 90-0 with a 1A-5A title; he is one of 10 undefeated wrestlers in the field. He could face Ohatchee eighth-grader Reed Hill (42-15) in Friday’s semifinals.

Among the more interesting storylines involving local wrestlers is the track toward a much-anticipated 170 final between undefeated 1A-5A sectional champions Alexandria freshman Christian Knop (52-0) and Dora senior Caleb Lauderdale (57-0). Lauderdale would have to go through Leeds’ Arthur Patton (39-7) in the second round and possibly Weaver’s South runnerup Tyler Johnson in the semis to get there.

Also, Oxford sophomore 170 Matt King (13-2), once-beaten Weaver junior 113 Nick Souder (61-1) and Cleburne County junior 152 Tyler Mayfield (10-1) all will be out to repeat as state champions. King won at 138 a year ago.

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