Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by CA Scoreboard Staff
CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE — Wrestling is a unique sport that plays to both the importance of the individual and the team at different times throughout the season. Right now – the team is the focus as squads throughout the state are competing in the early rounds of the AHSAA Duals tournament. In Wetumpka – the hometown Indians advanced after knocking off rival Stanhope Elmore (who knocked off Holtville).
“I thought we did really well last night,” said Indians Wrestling Coach Anthony Byrd. “That was our first time having our full lineup this season so I was excited to see how we did. Melvin Owens impressed me. He’s a first year kid who stepped up and won both of his matches by pin.”
The Indians – after gaining a quick four-match advantage – carried the momentum on through the end of the match, defeating the rival Mustangs 45-25.
“We were off in the first match vs. Wetumpka,” said Stanhope Elmore Wrestling Coach Hunter Adams, “We lost four winnable matches – whereas winning any three of the four changes the match’s outcome. We wrestled hard – but not smart.”
Starting at 220 pounds, Ethan Blake (Wetumpka) defeated Contravious Jackson (SE) 12-6. Willie Cox, at heavyweight, won a 6-4 battle over Dezmond Barnes. The two wins put the Tribe up 6-0. Rolling over to the little guys, Roman McWilliams and Braxton Sheffield picked up forfeits to triple the Indian’s lead: 18-0. Stanhope Elmore scored their first point at 120 pounds when Michael Barringer pinned his opponent at 120 pounds.
Chad Strickland and Noah Smith picked off back-to-back wins.
Jackson Wade put points on the Mustangs side of the scoreboard defeating Tyler Mann 11-2.
The celebration – for the Mustangs – was short-lived as Zach Crosthwait and Melvin Owens picked up a pair of Wetumpka wins.
Connor Russo answered and led a streak of Mustangs wins, followed by Christian Rawls and Eduardo Roblero moving the score to 39-25 Wetumpka.
Adams: “We lost another starter to injury, which puts us forfeiting four weight classes now which is hard to overcome.”
The Indians wrapped up the win – Christian Preston defeated Trent Bradford in the first round.
In the first dual of the night – Stanhope Elmore defeated Holtville 48-30.
“We wrestled better against Holtville,” said Adams. “We limited our mistakes and maintained our effort. Freshman heavyweight Dezmond Barnes wrestled very well and had a big win, as he continues to improve each week.”
Barnes made short work of Holtville heavyweight Matthew Morrison, muzzling the Bulldogs big man in 12 seconds. The Mustangs – after giving points away at 106 pounds – added to their tally with a second-round pin at 120 pounds. Michael Barringer defeated Brock Godwin.
“We are a young upstart team that gives 100 percent,” said David Lovering, coach of the Bulldogs. “They are learning and growing. Our kids competed and went up against two 6A heavyweights blow by blow. I’m proud of my group.”
Tyler Hackett and Zoie Guthrie had their hands raised, adding 12 points to the team tally. Those points were quickly negated as Mustangs grapplers – Jackson Wade and Kristian Seals – pinned their opponents in the second and third rounds respectively.
Brady Goodwin broke the Stanhope Elmore rally – but was the last Holtville grappler to win for a while.
Russo, Rawls, Roblero and Trent Bradford strung together a trio of pins and collected forfeit points to go up 48-24.
Kristopher Cole closed out the night, knocking off Jackson for the Holtville victory.
The final’s finish moves Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore into the next round of the AHSAA’s Duals Tournament where they will grapple with and host Pelham.
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