E.A. Sports Today

Another milestone

Alexandria’s Knop sets state record for consecutive wrestling victories (202), calls it his ‘proudest accomplishment’

Alexandria senior wrestler Christian Knop comes off the mat after setting the state record for consecutive victories and ceremonially breaks the old record over his knee.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SOUTHSIDE – The celebration was a little more muted than it could have been given the final result of the day, but Alexandria’s Christian Knop was still mighty proud of the milestone he reached earlier in the day.

Already the winningest wrestler in Calhoun County, the senior 195-pounder broke the Alabama state record for consecutive victories Friday when he pinned Southside’s Zane Pruitt in 14 seconds for his fourth win of the day and 202nd in a row.

The only thing that kept the day from being an unqualified success was host Southside winning the final three bouts of the match to beat the Valley Cubs 41-39 for the 1A-5A Region 6 title.

Knop came into the season with 164 straight wins from three straight undefeated state championship seasons and was 34-0 entering the day. After his milestone victory he came off the mat and snapped an imaginary twig over his knee, similar to what he did after breaking Jordan Simpson’s county all-time wins record at the Valley Cubs’ tournament right before Christmas.

“It represents all the hard work I’ve put in, all the practice hours, all the tournaments, just a reflection of all my accomplishments and what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it,” Knop said. “This state record has been held for a while by one of the greatest wrestlers in Alabama so just to break it is just phenomenal.

“It’s definitely going to stay in my mind forever and never leave no matter how successful I become. I would say this is my proudest accomplishment. No national tournament or All-American status would live up to this.”

The record Knop broke had been held by Mike Sutton, Weaver’s six-time state champion who won 201 in a row between 1999 and 2004.

Sutton, now an IT specialist for the U.S. Armed Forces Joint Communications Support Element in Florida, got to visit with Knop during the Gene Taylor Classic a couple weeks ago. The quality that struck him most was the North Carolina State signee’s work ethic and discipline.

“Records are meant to be broken; I’m glad that a guy like Christian is the one to do it,” Sutton told East Alabama Sports Today. “He’s a good kid with great worth ethic and discipline. After we met in person I knew he had what it took to succeed in breaking the record. In fact, before we parted ways we discussed the importance of consistency and mastering skills and keeping a competitive edge.

“He knows full well what it will take to be successful in collegiate wrestling and in life. Simply put, he’s mastered the basics and put in the work necessary to achieve greatness. I’m very proud of him and wish him and his family the best of luck. He has my congratulations and gratitude for his continued pursuit of excellence.”

There haven’t been many times during the winning streak Knop has even been threatened with a loss. But he did put the streak at risk so close to breaking it – in the second round Friday – when he wrestled Piedmont’s Logan Smith at 220 for the benefit of his team.

Knop won the match 10-5 for his 200th straight. He pinned Ashville’s Hunter Hersh in 35 seconds to tie the record and made quick work of Pruett to break it. He now has 288 wins in his high school career.

“I wasn’t thinking about myself, I was thinking about the team,” Knop said. “There is no ‘I’ in team. You’ve got to do whatever you can for the team and not for yourself.

“A true champion doesn’t run away from competition. Every opportunity I have to wrestle I want to wrestle; that’s what wrestlers do. I knew if I wrestled my match I could win, no matter what weight class I’m wrestling. I didn’t think it was much of a risk. I was just focused on going out there and performing for my team. The results show that.”

The results also showed the Valley Cubs had a 39-24 lead in the region championship match with three bouts to go, but the Panthers rallied under pressure. Calan Staub scored a pin at 113 to get it started, C.J. Butler scored a pin in the final 16 seconds at 120 (after trailing 9-4), and Jacob Dease scored a tech fall at 126 to put the Panthers over the top.

“One thing I preach every day in the room is we’ve got to elevate ourselves,” Southside coach King Knight said. “To comeback like that and have that kind of heart it shows what we’re doing as a coaching staff is working and the kids have the heart to do what we’re asking them to do.

“Winning in that fashion against that team, that’s a really good team. I don’t think anybody gave us a shot against Alexandria. They’re a title contender and this shows we’re a title contender, too.”

Ashville won the consolation match over Piedmont, Knight’s previous team, 43-42. Knight’s new team beat his old team 54-30 to reach the finals.

1A-5A Region 6 Championship Match
Southside 41, Alexandria 39

132 – Fletcher Swindall (A) pinned Everett Grizzard, 0:27
138 – Dakota Medders (A) pinned Jacob Davis, 0:52
145 – Jaden New (A) maj. dec. over Benjamin Sanders, 14-5
152 – Dathan Finley (S) pinned Connor Norris, 1:11
160 – Daniel Loudermilk (S) pinned Krystyan Boles, 1:03
170 – Carnel Davis (S) pinned Juddson Cromer, 0:33
182 – Ethan Stevenson (S) pinned Clay Bridges, 0:17
195 – Christian Knop (A) pinned Zane Pruitt, 0:15
220 – Peyton Thrasher (A) won by forfeit
285 – Skylar Payne (A) won by forfeit
106 – Donavon Lomax-Young (A) pinned Greg Barnard, 1:50
113 – Calan Staub (S) pinned Ethan Pizano, 2:27
120 – C.J. Butler (S) pinned Caleb Raughton, 5:44
126 – Jacob Dease (S) won by tech fall over Aden Whittaker, 19-2

The Southside Panthers rallied in the final three bouts to beat Alexandria for the 1A-5A Region 6 title.

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