E.A. Sports Today

On top at the end

Alexandria’s New caps ‘crazy year’ of wrestling COVID protocols with his fourth straight state title; Oxford’s Hicks wins 152 title, Gardendale takes team prize

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE – Each of the four state championships Alexandria junior Jaden New has won over the years has been unforgettable, but the latest one he got just might be the most satisfying because of all he’s had to endure to procure it.

New won his fourth straight title Saturday, tying former Valley Cubs teammate Christian Knop in the process, when he pinned Buckhorn’s Gabe Sweat in 4:27 for the Class 5A-6A 152-pound title. It was his 114th consecutive win.

He also won the 1A-5A 145 title last year (with a 52-0 record), the 132 title in 2019 and the 113 title in 2018.

He won this year’s title with a limited resume due to three COVID-19 quarantines. He was caught up in a contact tracing quarantine two weeks into the school year, was shuttered when his parents were quarantined and he even caught the virus. He exhibited limited symptoms and for only a few days, but he still had to quarantine.

“It’s been a crazy year,” New said. “I’ve been through it all – COVID, parents quarantine, wrongly quarantined, but no matter what you have to find ways out of the slump, whether it be training or finding self-motivation.

“Like they say, when one door closes another one opens, so I’m just glad to be able to wrestle and win for my town.”

All that adversity limited New to a 12-0 record going into the tournament and even fewer matches actually on the mat, leading to a No. 2 seed in his bracket. He figured he had as many live matches in the state tournament as he did during the season.

“At this state I could feel I wasn’t completely at the best shape I’ve ever been in, but it was enough to pull something off,” New said. “I did my best and I feel like I was prepared. I’m just glad I got to end up on top at the end.”

He won five matches at the VonBraun Center, three by pins and two by decision. He scored a 3-1 decision over Oxford’s Kendrick Young in the semifinals.

He didn’t get going in the finals until Sweat threw legs on him and caught him across the throat. The shock was the shot was the boost he needed it carried him to a pin early in the third period. 

“There was a lot special about it, not only because of COVID, but I tied with Christian,” New said. “And he was actually there to support me. He came from N.C. State and drove nine hours to come watch.

“I was really excited about him showing up because a lot of people, once they get out of high school, they don’t care much about what happens going on there with athletics. For him to actually come down and want to watch me win (was special).”

New was one of three Calhoun County wrestlers in championship matches and two who won. Their titles give Calhoun County 10 state champions Class 1A through 6A at this year’s state championships.

Oxford senior Chase Hicks (38-2) won a 10-6 decision over Spanish Fort junior Gabe Warren in a battle of defending champions in the 145-pound final. Hicks won at 152 pounds in 2020. Warren won last year at 132. 

Jakob Chisolm (25-1), Hicks’ senior teammate, suffered a 12-8 loss to Pelham sophomore Rafael Hipolito in the 160 final. It was the only championship match featuring two undefeated wrestlers.

Gardendale won its second straight team title, edging runner-up Arab by 11 points. Southside’sJacob Dease, who beat three defending champions during the tournament, was the Most Outstanding Wrestler. His 5-2 win over Jasper’s Manley Havis in the 132 final also was voted the tournament’s best match. Gardendale’s Isaiah Powe won Most Pins.

Gardendale got the points when it counted most and survived a strong challenge from Arab to claim the title. The Rockets accumulated 189.5 points, while Arab had 178.5. Oxford (103) was ninth. Alexandria scored 73.5 points.

Gardendale and Arab, two of the state’s most powerful programs year in and year out, went into the consolation finals separated by just two points and Gardendale came out of the session with a six-point lead.

Powe (33-0), a junior, won that key 120-pound title match with a pin of Arab senior Jacob Holland (43-7) in 3:53. It stretched Gardendale’s lead to 11 points, essentially sealing the Rockets’ second straight state title.

At VonBraun Center, Huntsville
Team scores (top 10):
Gardendale 189.5; Arab 178.5; Wetumpka 150.0; McAdory 146.0; Fort Payne 133.5; Homewood 122.0; Pelham 120.0; Southside-Gadsden 104.0; Oxford 103.0; Jasper 98.0.

106: Brodie Christmas, Mortimer Jordan (42-2), Fr. maj. dec. over Cale Tucker, Chelsea (21-2), So., 9-1.
113: Will Anderson, Athens (28-1), 8thmaj. dec. over Daishon Powe, Gardendale (22-5), Fr.,16-4.
120: Isaiah Powe, Gardendale (33-0), So. pinned Jacob Holland, Arab (43-7), Sr., 3:53. 
126: Cory Land, Moody (44-0), Jr. tech fall over Sam Sutton, Homewood (35-4), So.,2:43, 21-6.
132: Jacob Dease, Southside-Gadsden (51-5) dec. Maney Havis, Jasper (38-5), Sr., 5-2.
138: Melton Powe, Gardendale (33-2), Jr. dec. Kyler Adams, Wetumpka (35-1), Sr., 11-9.
145: Chase Hicks, Oxford (39-2), Sr. dec. Gabe Warren, Spanish Fort (29-2), Jr., 10-6.
152: Jaden New, Alexandria (17-0), Jr. pinned Gabe Sweat, Buckhorn (34-3), Sr., 4:27.
160: Rafael Hipolito, Pelham (25-0), So. dec. Jakob Chisolm, Oxford (25-1), Sr., 12-8.
170: Caleb Roe, Arab (47-4), Jr. dec. Seth Branham, Pelham (36-2), So., 7-2.
182: Mason Blackwell, Wetumpka (16-0), Sr. dec. Carnel Davis, Southside-Gadsden (46-4), Sr., 7-2. 
195: Drake Ewing, Gulf Shores (38-3), Sr. def. John McKimmon, Mountain Brook (35-1), Sr., DQ.
220: Riley Kuhn, Fort Payne (23-0), Sr. dec. Abe Preston, Wetumpka (29-3), Sr., 7-3. 
285: Dylan Daring, Shades Valley (23-0), Sr. dec. Damien Lawry, Ben Russell (28-2), Sr., 9-4.

106: Peter Henderson, McAdory (37-3), Sr. dec. Ramon Lozada, Elmore County (23-3), Fr., 3-2.
113: Hudson Waldrop, McAdory (45-2), So. dec. Chad Strickland, Wetumpka (28-8), So., 7-1.
120: Graham Miner, Homewood (32-6), Jr. dec. Lincoln Bryant, Hartselle (28-4), Fr., SV-1 4-2.
126: Cote Blalock, Fort Payne (22-1), Jr. pinned Gunner Birdsong, Athens (28-10), So., 2:24.
132: Bryce Wanagat, Pelham (34-2), Jr. pinned William Walker, Satsuma (29-2), Sr., 2:59.
145: Gray Ortis, Mountain Brook (32-2), Jr. dec. Dawson Williams, Fort Payne (24-7), So., 10-4.
152: Keenan Wyatt, Gardendale (32-4), Jr. dec. Donald Phillips, McAdory (31-4), Jr., , 9-2.
160: Carson Kim, Gardendale (26-2) Sr. pinned Jason Minchew, Shades Valley (27-4), Sr., 2:19.
170: Preston Reed, Jasper (34-4), Jr. dec. Luke Jasper, Mortimer Jordan (32-7), Jr., 6-0.
182: Preston Royster, Chelsea (25-2), Sr. pinned William Caneer, Buckhorn (35-4), So., 2:40.
195: John-Mark Crocker, Homewood (24-1), Sr. dec. Jonathan Pugh, Arab (44-5), Jr., 7-6.
220: Kolby Clark, Scottsboro (21-3), Jr. pinned Michael Robertson, Arab (22-11), Sr., 2:26.
285: C.J. Williams, Springville (39-2) pinned Demaria Jones, Center Point (12-4), Sr., 1:32.

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