E.A. Sports Today

Champs again

Oxford puts together late surge in championship round to win fourth straight county wrestling crown, Saks’ Brown voted outstanding wrestler, Carroll coach of the year 

Oxford’s Octavius Adair delivers the pin at 222 that clinched the Yellow Jackets’ fourth straight Calhoun County wrestling title.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE — Everyone expected the Calhoun County Wrestling Tournament would be a tight two-horse race.
So tight in fact, the coaches of the two favorites texted each other the night before to congratulate the other in advance for winning by double digits.
Turns out Alexandria’s Frank Hartzog was the smart one.
Oxford won its fourth straight county wrestling title, edging Hartzog’s Alexandria team by six points, 226-220, Friday at Pleasant Valley. The Yellow Jackets won five of the last seven weight classes and three of the last four in which they had wrestlers to pull it off.
“I texted Frank last night and said ‘congratulations, I think you’re going to beat me by 10,’” Oxford coach Kyle Routon said. “He said, no, you’re going to beat us by 10.”
“I guess I’m the smarter one,” said Hartzog, ever the pessimist.
It was the closest finish in the eight-man bracket era of the tournament and the most dramatic since 2012 when the dual match format produced a three-way tie and the winner was determined after two of the teams were docked team points for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during matches. 
The Yellow Jackets produced six county champions and went 9-3 in the championship and consolation finals. Their county champions were Garrett Howell (132), Kendrick Young (154), Reed Hill (162), Tristen Latham (172), Octavius Adair (222) and Kobe Shumaker (287).
The Yellow Jackets were in comeback mode all day, wrestling with a lineup that was missing at least two regulars that would have been a 1 or 2 seed. They were down 17 points after Alexandria’s Jaden New decisioned Oxford’s Chase Hicks in the 140 pound final.
“I knew going into it we were two weight classes down and I knew they (Alexandria) were going to place all 14 of theirs and we’d have to place all 12 of ours,” Routon said. “Going into it I’m thinking we’re down 15 points right there. The kids did a great job bonusing all day, pinning pretty much throughout the tournament, even in the finals; that’s pretty much what did it.
“I’m excited for the kids of how we fought all day knowing we were behind.”
Latham put the Jackets ahead 216-214 with a decision at 172 while Alexandria was losing consolation finals at 222 and heavyweight. He knew the significance his match played in the grand scheme of the day, but he refused to succumb to the pressure, even when it looked like he might get stuck early in the match.
“I didn’t feel any pressure,” he said. “Pressure’s in your mind, if you let it get to you it’s going to get to you, but if you don’t, you’ll wrestle fine. All I worried about was takedowns and winning; that’s all that mattered to me.”

Connor Hall’s win over Keeshon Siaosi at 197 put the Valley Cubs back on top 220-216, but then Octavius Adair clinched the crown for Oxford with his pin at 222.
Adair, who played on Oxford’s state championship football team, was wrestling for the first time this season here and was seeded fifth in his weight division. He won all three of his matches by pin.
“I kind of laid off from it and then I realized this is my team I’m letting down so I had to come back and show them that I’m still here,” Adair said. 
Because Alexandria had no one in the 287 final and the consolation matches were concluded, the team title was decided. Kobe Schumaker could only add to the total, which he did with a decision in the final bout of the tournament.
Saks’ 184 champion Trent Brown was voted most outstanding wrestler of the tournament. He scored a pin and two decisions, including a 6-5 win over Weaver’s Devin Anderson in the final, to win his second straight county crown.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it at all,” he said. “There are so many other kids who are a lot better than me, so I just thought they would be it. But I worked really hard. I feel like I deserved it. This will be like a motivation for me to strive to get more awards and maybe win the state championship one day.”
Saks’ first-year coach Ben Carroll was overwhelmingly voted Coach of the Year. He took a program that had five wrestlers to a full team of 20, finished fourth-place in the county championship with nine competitors, had an individual champion who was most valuable wrestler and three runner-ups.
“It’s always nice to get something like this because it’s voted on by the coaches,” Carroll said. “It means your peers and colleagues see you’re putting in the work and care about the program, but to me we’re not where I want us to be yet. It’s nice to get this, but as a team I have expectations and as a team we’re still not where I want us to be. Even though it’s nice, it’s just a little bonus. We’ve still got room for improvement.”

Saks’ 184 county champion Trent Brown (L) and coach Ben Carroll were voted Most Valuable Wrestler and Coach of the Year by the county coaches.

Team scores:
Oxford 226, Alexandria 220, Weaver 129, Saks 83, Piedmont 63, Pleasant Valley 62, Ohatchee 51, White Plains 47, Wellborn 43.
Championship match: Preston Jones, Alexandria (26-5) pinned Matthew Kenneway, Saks (19-7), 2:58
Consolation match: Preston Smith, Oxford (8-8) pinned Gavin Kilgore, White Plains (12-6), 2:39
Championship match: Kaleb Mathews, Alexandria (32-4) pinned Dylan Melendez, Piedmont (18-2), 1:20.
Consolation match: Kaleb Shelton, Oxford (21-12) pinned Mark Ponder, White Plains (6-7), 3:35.
Championship match: Garrett Howell, Oxford (16-5) dec. Joseph Lomax, Alexandria (16-5), 6-2
Consolation match: Lena Johannson, Weaver (18-9) pinned Payton Sanders, 4:50
Championship match: Aden Whittaker, Alexandria (26-8) dec. Carter Maddox, Piedmont (10-4), 5-1
Consolation match: Trravis Bellar, Weaver (15-6) pinned Kash Hornsby, Oxford (6-14), 2:12
Championship match: Joshua Johannson, Weaver (20-5) pinned Landon Bushard, Alexandria (9-6), 1:34
Consolation match: Mason Cooper, Wellborn (5-3) pinned Alex Cullen, Piedmont (1-2), 1:30
Championship match: Jaden New, Alexandria (32-0) dec. Chase Hicks, Oxford (24-5), 10-4
Consolation match: Malachi Goble, Ohatchee (3-1) dec. Gavin Robinson, Wellborn, 18-15
Championship match: Cody Souder, Weaver (18-4) maj. dec. over Dakota Medders, 12-0
Consolation match: Jaylen Thomas, White Plains (9-5) pinned Zeke Curvin, Pleasant Valley, 1:12
Championship match: Kendrick Young, Oxford (21-3) dec. Timothy Thurman, Saks (19-4), 14-7
Consolation match: Matthew King, Ohatchee (14-8) dec. Carson Farr, Alexandria (15-9), 5-0
Championship match: Reed Hill, Oxford (29-0) pinned Connor Norris, Alexandria (23-12), 1:09
Consolation match: Jalon Helm, Piedmont (8-11) pinned Andrew Mclester, Saks (17-13), 4:13
Championship match: Tristen Latham, Oxford (24-10) dec. Troy Galloway (14-6), Ohatchee, 17-10
Consolation match: Hunter Sallee, Pleasant Valley (12-6) pinned Jason Howard, Alexandria (10-9), 2:43
Championship match: Trent Brown, Saks (16-3) dec. Devin Anderson, Weaver (16-4), 6-5
Consolation match: Payton Ratliff, Oxford (8-4) pinned Jackson Primm, Alexandria (25-12), 2:50
Championship match: Connor Hall, Alexandria (30-5) pinned Keeshon Siaosi, Oxford (12-4), 2:22
Consolation match: Hayden Ransom, Weaver (18-10) dec. Tekoma Crump, Pleasant Valley (2-2), 9-4
Championship match: Octavius Adair, Oxford (3-0) pinned Treveon Bolton, Saks (19-5), 3:23
Consolation match: Harley Kendall, Wellborn (5-4) pinned Caleb McCulley, Alexandria (30-9), 2:15
Championship match: Kobe Shumaker, Oxford (22-5) dec. Cameron Thornton, Weaver (14-8), 8-2
Consolation match: Jonathan Evans, Pleasant Valley (10-5) pinned Juddson Cromer, Alexandria (26-12), 1:22

Alexandria’s Aden Whittaker drives Piedmont’s Carter Maddox in their 128 final. Whittkaer was one of five county champions produced by the runnerup Valley Cubs.

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