E.A. Sports Today

Expectations met

Oxford runs away with second straight 6A state wrestling title; county gets 7 individual champions, Alexandria’s Knop 1A-5A MVP

Alexandria’s Christian Knop stands on the top step of the podium after winning his third straight state title to complete a third straight undefeated season. Oxford’s Calhoun County Tournament title (cover) was the start of a four-step run to Saturday’s second straight state 6A title.

By East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE – Oxford parlayed a big overnight lead into its second straight Class 6A championship and Alexandria’s 1A-5A MVP Christian Knop was among seven Calhoun County wrestlers to win individual titles during Saturday’s final day of the AHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Von Braun Center.


The Yellow Jackets, who entered the day with a 74-point lead, scored 203 points and finished 92 points ahead of runner-up Benjamin Russell. Jakob Chisolm (126), Matt King (152) and heavyweight Clay Webb all won individual titles.

“I’m very excited for the kids,” Jackets coach Matt Hicks said. “After last year, expectations were through the roof. They met those and surpassed them. I doubt 200 points have been scored at state many times.

“It was an unbelievable weekend. My biggest concern was not being able to finish today. My kids knew it was over, but we challenged them to finish as well as they started.”

The Jackets had five wrestlers reach championship matches. Chisolm scored an 8-5 decision over McAdory’s Steven Bell for the 126 title that was voted Best Match in 6A. King scored a 4-2 decision over Homewood’s Javonic Turner at 152. Webb pinned Hueytown’s Brian Gardner in 37 seconds to lock up the Most Pins Award.

For the second year in a row the Yellow Jackets swept all four legs of their Season Slam, winning the Calhoun County Championship, State Duals, South Super Sectionals and, finally, the State Championship.

“We peaked this weekend rather than last week at sectionals,” Hicks said.

Cubs go 3-for-3, finish third

Alexandria placed three wrestlers in the finals and all three came away with 1A-5A gold. The Valley Cubs finished third in the team race with 112.5 points, behind winner Arab (157.5) and runner-up Scottsboro (153.5) and 1.5 points ahead of Cleburne County.

Eighth-grader Jaden New pinned Arab’s Joseph Martin in 1:28 to win the 113. Aaron Whittaker made a late move to edge Holtville’s Brady Richardson 7-5 for the 152 title that was voted Best Match in 1A-5A. And Knop pinned Deshler’s Monquavias Ricks in 1:45 for the 182 title.


“I can’t explain the feeling other than it’s crazy and unbelievable and awesome,” Whittaker said. “Me and Jaden and Christian all got to win titles together this year; it was awesome. It pumped me up to watch Jaden pin that kid from Arab; it pumped me for my match. I knew Christian was going to win. After I won I said we’ve got three, 3-for-3.”

Knop completed his third straight undefeated season with his third straight state title and 164th straight victory. The pin was his 42nd of the year and 36th in the first period.

He needs 38 wins to break Weaver six-time state champion Michael Sutton’s state record for consecutive victories (201). If he runs the table again next year he will become the first wrestler in state history with four straight undefeated state championship seasons.

Knop’s run of state titles just seems to get better every year. The first was to prove he could do it. Last year’s was to prove it was no fluke. All of them have come with what has become a traditional celebratory leap into the arms of assistant coach Tyler Causey. This title came with a new element – the Outstanding Wrestler Award.


“It’s definitely something I’ve strived for ever since I started,” Knop said. “I dreamed about getting Most Valuable at the State Tournament. It was on the bucket list and now I can say I can finally cross it off.”

New overcame a restless night to score “the best thing I’ve ever done.” He was up around 3 a.m., some eight hours before his scheduled title match, “nervous, excited and ready to get out there,” and spent the rest of the night watching tape of his previous matches with his opponent.

He must have picked up something valuable. He eventually made his signature move, threw Martin, a junior he beat in overtime in last year’s state semifinals, and squeezed him until the official slapped the mat.

“I went up there knowing I had a vision I was going to win,” New said. “It went out there and put forward pressure knowing that in six minutes of my 24-hour day I could become a state champion. I went in and did my job and was crazy happy.”

Whittaker gained a huge measure of revenge for a one-point loss to Richardson in the South Super Sectional. He definitely used that setback as motivation.

He carried a 4-3 lead into the third period. Richardson gave him another point in order to make a move and with 40 seconds took down Whittaker to tie the match. Whittaker thought he was behind and made his move with about 15 seconds left, countering Richardson’s move, scoring the reversal, taking him to the mat and riding him out.

“It devastated me,” he said of the loss in the sectional. “I felt when I wrestled him at sectionals, I wasn’t open and my gears weren’t working or my engines were firing. When I stepped on the mat today I just felt like I was in tune with everything. I felt confident and I was ready.”

He finished second in the MVP voting to his teammate Knop – by one vote.

Weaver’s Allison collects elusive crown

Caleb Allison has been trying to win a state championship from the moment he stepped on the varsity mat, but something always seemed to get in the way.

The Weaver junior wasn’t going to be denied Saturday when he beat North Jackson’s Travis Woodall with an overtime takedown to win the 1A-5A 220 title, 3-1.


“I’m relieved I finally won one,” he said. “It’s hard to describe. There’s been so much pressure on my shoulders to win. I’ve been wanting to win so bad the last couple of years. To finally win it feels so good.”

You have to know what he’s gone through to understand what winning the title means to him. A broken rib he suffered in the run-up to the County Tournament kept him out of competition as an eighth-grader. He was a favorite as a ninth-grader, but got upset in the preliminaries along the way. Last year he lost in the state finals.

And this one wasn’t easy. Their match finished 1-1 in regulation. They pushed back and forth early in the overtime and it looked like the Bearcats junior would be denied again as Woodall threw him on his back, but Allison bench-pressed him out of bounds with no points being awarded.

Woodall tried to repeat the move with about 20 seconds left in the period, but this time Allison sat back on it and he scored the takedown for the win.

“I finally did it,” he said. “It feels even better having to push through the injuries to do it. People don’t know how hard it is in wrestling to deal with sickness or injury. If you get sick or hurt, you’re not gonna win at all. I had to keep going and tell myself to pushing because the hardest worker is gonna win in the end.”

Here are the local title bouts:

106 – Cody Souder, Fr., Weaver (34-1) lost to Cory Land, Jr., Moody (53-2), 6-4
113 – Jaden New, 8, Alexandria (37-5) pinned Joseph Martin, Jr., Arab (56-5), 1:28
120 – Dylan Turner, Sr., Cleburne County (31-4) lost to Macon Edwards, Sr., Fultondale (75-0), 6-0
152 – Aaron Whittaker, Sr., Alexandria (46-4) dec. over Brady Richardson, Sr., Holtville (49-2), 7-5
182 – Christian Knop, Jr., Alexandria (50-0) pinned Monquavias Ricks, Sr., Deshler (43-3), 1:45
220 – Caleb Allison, Jr., Weaver (53-3) dec. over Travis Woodall, Jr., North Jackson (30-5), SV-1, 3-1

113 – Chase Hicks, Jr., Oxford (59-8) lost to Andrew Smith, Sr., Southside (71-4), 12-1
120 – Landon Burrage, Jr., Oxford (53-21) lost to Jacob Dease, Fr., Southside (61-10), 8-0
126 – Jakob Chisolm, Fr., Oxford (57-14) dec. over Steven Bell, Jr., McAdory (69-2), 8-5
152 – Matt King, Sr., Oxford (55-3) dec. over Javonic Turner, Sr., Homewood (42-1), 4-2
285 – Clay Webb, Jr., Oxford (34-1) pinned Brian Gardner, Sr., Hueytown (22-2), 0:37

Alexandria’s Jaden New (R), shown in action in the County Tournament, became one of the season’s youngest state champions when he won at 113 in 1A-5A. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)


(at Von Braun Center, Huntsville)

(Top 10)
CLASS 1A-5A: Arab 157.5, Scottsboro 153.5, Alexandria 112.5, Cleburne County 111, Dora 108.5, Mortimer Jordan 78.5, Hayden 69, Moody 69, Mae Jemison 64.5, Susan Moore 60.5. Others: Weaver 48 (15th), Piedmont 25 (T-22), Saks 18 (26th), Ranburne 16 (28th), Lincoln 4 (T-42), Pleasant Valley 3 (T-44), Talladega 3 (T-44), White Plains 3 (T-44), Wellborn 0 (T-49).

CLASS 6A: Oxford 203, Benjamin Russell 111, Clay-Chalkville 103.5, Gardendale 98, Athens 97, McAdory 88, Helena 87, Pinson Valley 86.5, Southside-Gadsden 85, Stanhope Elmore 71.

CLASS 7A: Thompson 120.0; Central-Phenix City 93.0; Oak Mountain 84.5; Hewitt-Trussville 77.0; Vestavia Hills 77.0; Bob Jones 73.5; Hoover 73.5; Grissom 57.0; Huntsville 36.0; Auburn 33.0.

106 –
Cory Land (Moody) 53-2, 8th. dec. over Cody Souder (Weaver) 34-1, Fr. (6-4).
113 – Jaden New (Alexandria) 37-5, 8th. pinned Joseph Martin (Arab) 56-5, Jr. (1:28).
120 – Macon Edwards (Fultondale) 75-0, Sr. dec. over Dylan Turner (Cleburne County) 31-4, Sr. (6-0).
126 – John McAlpin (Scottsboro) 46-4, Sr. pinned Landon Castleberry (Hayden) 53-3, Sr. (1:16).
132 – Zachary Clayton (Dora) 59-1, Sr. maj. dec. over Kage Robertson (Susan Moore) 40-4, Sr. (16-3).
138 – Brantley McHugh (Madison County) 28-5, Sr. pinned Garrett McClendon (Arab) 58-7, Jr. (6:00).
145 – Clay Jones (Arab) 69-0, Sr. dec. over Rashad Clark (Moody) 53-6, Jr. (8-6).
152 – Aaron Whittaker (Alexandria) 46-4, Sr. dec. over Brady Richardson (Holtville) 49-2, Sr. (7-5).
160 – Carial Tarter (Mortimer Jordan) 62-0, Sr. maj. dec. over Colby Hallmark (Hayden) 47-9, Jr. (15-2).
170 – Kolton Clark (Scottsboro) 51-2, Jr. pinned Ethan Pippin (Westminster Christian) 44-5, Sr. (2:57).
182 – Christian Knop (Alexandria) 50-0, Jr. pinned Monquavias Ricks (Deshler) 43-3, Sr. (1:45).
195 – Tanner Woodall (North Jackson) 30-2, Jr. pinned Andy Baker (Tallassee) 57-2, Jr. (2:40).
220 – Caleb Allison (Weaver) 57-2, Jr. dec. over Travis Woodall (North Jackson) 30-5, Jr. (SV-1 3-1).
285 – Bradford Womack (Scottsboro) 29-6, Jr. dec. over Michael Barnes (Mortimer Jordan) 46-11, Jr. (6-0).
MOST PINS – John McAlpin, Scottsboro (4 pins, 5:02).
BEST MATCH – Aaron Whittaker, Alexandria vs. Brady Richardson, Holt (152 finals).
MVP – Christian Knop, Alexandria.

106 –
George Vazquez (Pinson Valley) 32-3, Jr. dec. over Bobby Charsha (Benjamin Russell) 56-10, So. (8-5).
113 – Andrew Smith (Southside-Gadsden) 71-4, Sr. maj. dec. over Chase Hicks (Oxford) 59-8, Fr. (12-1).
120 – Jacob Dease (Southside-Gadsden) 61-10, Fr. maj. dec. over Landon Burrage (Oxford) 53-21, Jr. (8-0).
126 – Jakob Chisolm (Oxford) 57-14, Fr. dec. over Steven Bell (McAdory) 69-2, Jr. (8-5).
132 – Gage Hudson (Gulf Shores) 42-6, Jr. dec. over Brandon Seawright (Minor) 36-3, So. (11-6).
138 – Alex Miller (Helena) 51-2, Sr. pinned Deacon Cowart (Athens) 35-14, Jr. (3:06).
145 – Justin Ingram (Spanish Fort) 76-0, Sr. dec. over Saxon Coker (Benjamin Russell) 55-11, So. (5-1).
152 – Matt King (Oxford) 55-3, Sr. dec. over Javonic Turner (Homewood) 42-1, Sr. (4-2).
160 – Zaquarius Harris (Columbia) 42-9, Jr. dec. over Trevor Muncey (Gardendale) 26-6, Sr. (2-1).
170 – Tobias Garrison (Stanhope Elmore) 40-0, Sr. dec. over Isaiah Mcdougal (Columbia) 45-3, Sr. (5-2).
182 – Nathan Dunaway (Helena) 67-1, So. dec. over Thomas Carter (Athens) 12-2, Sr. (6-2).
195 – Carlos Miguel Figueroa (Homewood) 61-1, Jr. pinned Anthony Talton (Clay-Chalkville) 43-5, Jr. (1:23).
220 – Jackson Jones (Clay-Chalkville) 36-2, Jr. pinned Daiquion Thedford (Brookwood) 32-4, Sr. (1:55).
285 – Clay Webb (Oxford) 36-1, Jr. pinned Brian Gardner (Hueytown) 22-3, Sr. (0:37).
MOST PINS – Clay Webb, Oxford (4 pins, 3:40).
BEST MATCH – Steven Bell, McAdory, vs. Jakob Chisolm, Oxford (126 pound finals).
MVP – Justin Ingram, Spanish Fort.

106 –
Dylan Lesueur (Thompson) 47-8, Jr. dec. over Adrian Neco (Central-Phenix City) 51-6, Fr. (1-0).
113 – Tyler Ivey (Grissom) 22-0, Jr. dec. over Emmanuel Oliver (Thompson) 32-6, So. (5-1).
120 – Sullivan Tipton (Oak Mountain) 50-7, So. dec. over Riley Huff (Hoover) 35-9, Jr. (4-3).
126 – Chandlar Akins (Thompson) 39-9, Jr. dec. over Mark Hurt (Central-Phenix City) 39-7, Sr. (3-0).
132 – Gabe Hixenbaugh (Thompson) 53-3, Jr. dec. over Maxwell Kauffman (Central-Phenix City) 51-5, Jr. (3-2).
138 – Stone Barden (Hewitt-Trussville) 26-3, Jr. maj. dec. over Hector Candelaria (Central-Phenix City) 51-1, Sr. (9-1).
145 – Conner Smith (Hewitt-Trussville) 43-4, Sr. dec. over Jonathan Handy (Grissom) 52-3, Sr. (10-4).
152 – Cale Land (Hewitt-Trussville) 23-9, Jr. dec. over Peter Dazzio (Vestavia Hills) 38-7, Jr. (6-3).
160 – Robert Morales (Central-Phenix City) 49-3, Sr. pinned Bowman Hill (Vestavia Hills) 28-3, Sr. (3:12).
170 – Barrett Blakely (Oak Mountain) 53-0, Sr. pinned Jordan Hunter (Buckhorn) 31-3, Jr. (3:42).
182 – Spencer Haddock (Vestavia Hills) 22-2, Sr. maj. dec. over George Francovitch (Bob Jones) 42-5, Jr. (14-5).
195 – D`Angelo Dewitt (Hoover) 46-2, Sr. maj. dec. over Harold Gilmore (Bob Jones) 41-6, Sr. (10-2).
220 – Jaeger Clark (Huntsville) 57-2, Sr. dec. over Seth Dupree (Bob Jones) 45-5, Sr. (4-2).
285 – Seth Whitlock (Thompson) 28-11, Sr. over Camron Hill (Lee-Montgomery) 29-2, Sr. (DQ).
MOST PINS – Robert Morales, Central-Phenix City (3 pins, 8:24).
BEST MATCH – Jaeger Clark, Huntsville vs. Seth Dupree, Bob Jones (220-pound finals).
MVP – Barrett Blakely, Oak Mountain.

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