E.A. Sports Today

County’s best ever

Alexandria’s Knop becomes Calhoun County’s all-time winningest wrestler, next milestone to reach is state record for consecutive victories

Alexandria’s Christian Knop turns Ranburne’s Christian Smith on the way to his County record-setting 277th career victory Saturday. On the cover, Knop reflects on the enormity of the moment immediately after the pin.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Christian Knop didn’t set out to set a bunch of wrestling records when he stepped onto the mat for the first time as a seventh-grader. The records just keep finding him.

On Saturday, the Alexandria senior became the all-time winningest wrestler in Calhoun County history when he turned back four more challengers – all by pin – to win the 195 weight class in the Valley Cubs’ Grappling in Death Valley tournament.

When Knop pinned Ranburne’s Christian Smith for the fourth time this season in 3:36, it was his 277th career win, eclipsing the county record held by Oxford’s Jordan Simpson – a former wrestling club training partner – who went 276-9 from 2009-13.

Weaver’s Caleb Allison displays the championship belt for winning Most Valuable Wrestler in the tournament. It was the second week in a row he was so honored.

“Calhoun County in my opinion is the best county for wrestling in the state of Alabama and to break the all-time win record previously held by one of former teammates, a good guy and a really good wrestler is phenomenal,” Knop said. “I can’t even describe it.

“I’m probably going to be thinking about this night for a while. It’s one of the more memorable nights in my life. Never really imagined what it’d feel like, but it’s here and it feels great.”

As Knop walked off the mat following his milestone win he paused to snap an imaginary record over his right knee. It was a gesture he picked up from an Instagram post of one of his future teammates at North Carolina State.

And then he went up the stairs and ran a couple sprints.

“It was kind of in the back of my head,” he said. “And when the moment came I took it.”

The pin for No. 277 left him tied with Macon Edwards (Fultondale/Hayden) for sixth on the AHSAA’s all-time wins list. Next in line is Brandon Brindley’s 293 wins at Mortimer Jordan (2008-12).

It also extended his consecutive wins streak to 191, jumping all-time winningest wrestler Brandon Womack of Scottsboro, for second on that list. He’s 11 away from that record, held by Weaver’s Michael Sutton, and as dominant as Knop has been the last four years he could get it as early as the Calhoun County Tournament Jan. 3 at Piedmont.

The match against Smith was the longest Knop has been extended on the mat this season; he’d only been taken into the second period one other time. His first three pins Saturday came in 0:15, 0:16 and 0:45 to tie the record.

His current career record stands at 277-32 with 230 pins – and three consecutive state championships. He has 25 pins among his 27 victories this year.

“I don’t think it ever went through my mind breaking any records,” Knop said. “I was just trying to focus on getting better, better myself as a person, as a student-athlete and as a teammate to some of these guys who are coming up behind me. My main goal from Day One was not to break any records, be a state champ, just be the very best Christian Knop I can be. Every day I step on the mat I try to think about that.”

To that end, he dedicated Saturday’s record-breaking performance to the memory of the father of teammate Connor Norris (152) who passed away last week after an illness. Saturday would have been Tim Norris’ birthday.

Weaver’s Caleb Allison was voted most valuable wrestler for the second week in a row. He won four matches with pins all in the first minute to win the 220 title. ASB’s Geordan Carter’s 6-5 win over Southside’s Carnel Davis in the 170 title bout was voted the best match of the tournament.

“I guess it’s just an honor considering the talent we had here today,” Allison said. “There are so many good wrestlers, it makes me feel good knowing who all is here.”

There was a moment he didn’t think he’d be able to make the final. He suffered a deep cut over his left eye during his semifinal match and “didn’t know if I could continue.” The cut was closed and covered and “didn’t bother me like I thought” in the finals.

SINGLETS: Arab won the team title with 686 points. Bob Jones was second and Alexandria third … Alexandria’s Fletcher Swindall scored his 250th career victory when he beat Weaver’s Cody Souder for the 132 title. That would put him 11th on the AHSAA list … There are only four wrestlers on the list with 300 or more victories. If Knop runs the table again with just his wins average the last three years he would finish with 305 wins, fifth all-time … Ethan Bozarth gave White Plains its program’s second-ever tournament champion when he pinned previously-unbeaten Mac Johnson of St. James in 3:19 for the 182 title. The former 195 was wrestling at 182 for the first time and Wildcats coach Todd Manning said Bozarth would stay in that spot the rest of the season … Alexandria won the Calhoun County Youth Tournament for the third year in a row and fourth time in five years Friday. The Valley Cubs scored 156 points. Weaver was second and No Escape (Oxford/White Plains) third. A record 181 wrestlers competed.

Team scores:
Arab 686, Bob Jones 613.5, Alexandria 601, St. James 584, Ranburne 417, Weaver 394, White Plains 383, Homewood 304, Piedmont 273, Susan Moore 234.5, Lincoln 233.5, Wellborn 193.5, Southside-Gadsden 164.5, Talladega 163, Ohatchee 136, Alabama School for the Blind 134.5, Saks 60.5.

Championship matches
106 – Jacob Holland, Arab (22-3) pinned Tennison Norton, St. James (9-1), 0:44
113 – Austin Slive, Arab (15-4) pinned Dawson Stanford, Lincoln (17-7), 2:34
120 – Bronson Jackson, Arab (19-2) pinned Wes Christie, St. James (11-2), 2:18
126 – Jim Wilson, Bob Jones (20-2) dec. over Jackson Howard, St. James (12-1), 9-2
132 – Fletcher Swindall, Alexandria (17-0) dec. over Cody Souder, Weaver (23-4), 13-9
138 – Jaden New, Alexandria (22-0) pinned Gabe Robbins, St. James (12-1), 3:50
145 – Trey Gaines, St. James (5-0) dec. over Joseph Martin, Arab (16-3), 10-4
152 – Ricky Dean Scoggins, Bob Jones (10-5) tech fall over Stephen Schmitt, Arab (20-10), 16-1
160 – Chris Congress, Bob Jones (13-4) dec. over John-Mark Crocker, Homewood (4-1), 5-2
170 – Geordan Carter, ASB (24-2) dec. over Carnel Davis, Southside (8-1), 6-5
182 – Ethan Bozarth, White Plains (16-2) pinned Mac Johnson, St. James (11-1), 3:19
195 – Christian Knop, Alexandria (27-0) pinned Christian Smith, Ranburne (18-4), 3:36
220 – Caleb Allison, Weaver (25-1) pinned Zac Pugh, Arab (24-4), 0:50
285 – Evan Cooper, Piedmont (6-0) pinned Mikey Lucente, Bob Jones (14-3), 0:48

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