By Charles Prince
The North Jefferson News
High school wrestling’s postseason gets under way this Friday, as teams from all over the state compete in sectional tournaments to determine which eight wrestlers in each weight class will advance to next week’s state championship meet. The top four wrestlers in each weight class at each sectional in both 1A-4A and 5A will move onto the state tournament next weekend.
Gardendale and Mortimer Jordan will travel to Benjamin Russell High School for the 5A, Section 1 meet beginning Friday at 5 p.m. The Hayden Wildcats will travel to Scottsboro for the 5A, Section 2 tournament, also beginning Friday at 5 p.m.
Fultondale will host the 1A-4A, Section 2 meet beginning Friday at 5 p.m., as the Wildcats look to defend their sectional crown from 2007.
1A-4A, Section 2
The Fultondale Wildcats hope to defend their title from a year ago this weekend. Two schools were added to the section just days ago and it could make things tough for the Wildcats.
“They added St. Clair County and Leeds to our section late,” Fultondale head coach Billy Hughes said. “This will be tough for us to win, but we can win it if we wrestle hard.”
Hughes thinks the Wildcats could qualify as many as 10 wrestlers for the state meet. He thinks seven Fultondale wrestlers have a chance to win individual titles this weekend, including Aaron Martin, Cody Evan, Chris Self, Brett Pennington, Alec Williams, Sam Robles and Cody Hatcher.
Hatcher may wrestle at 215 or 285 this weekend. In the other 200-pound-plus weight class that Hatcher is not competing in, will be junior Brandon Nelson.
“It’s a reasonable goal for our team to get 10 wrestlers into the state meet,” Hughes said. “We’d like to get more, of course, but 10 is what we think we can get in.”
Last year, the Wildcats beat runner-up Oak Grove by 48 points for the sectional title a week before finishing as the 1A-4A state runner-up.
The 2007 team qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament.
5A, Section 1
Both Gardendale and Mortimer Jordan are expected to make a run at the team title.
“I think it’ll be a shootout between four clubs for the title,” Mortimer Jordan head coach Terry Tingle said. “The host Benjamin Russell, Gardendale, McAdory and our club all have a chance to win the title. It should be a close battle all the way. There’ll be so many good wrestlers there than any one of those four teams can win. It just depends on who wrestles their best this weekend.”
Tingle’s Blue Devils, who finished this season with a 26-7 dual meet record as well as taking the runner-up spot at the Jefferson County tournament, could have as many as 10 wrestlers qualify for the next week’s state meet.
Last year, the Blue Devils sent four wrestlers onto the state meet. All four—Brandon Brindley, James Stewart, Ricky Coe and Rob Glenn are back this year.
“We’re wrestling very well right now,” Tingle said. “The way we finished the year and coming in second at county. We’ve improved a lot over the beginning of the season. I think we’re definitely a threat to win the sectional title. We’ve got the potential to do it, but it’ll take a great effort.”
Gardendale won the 5A, Section 1 crown last year, finishing ahead of runner-up Benjamin Russell by 16 points, 194 to 178.
However, the 2007 Rockets featured four seniors who would go onto place at the state tournament—Daniel Swann, Anthony DiSalvo, Tripp Otis and Chad Bearden.
Otis and Bearden won state crowns in addition to grabbing sectional titles last year.
According to their coach, despite the loss of those top performers, the Rockets can make some noise this weekend.
“I think McAdory or Mortimer Jordan is the favorite,” Gardendale head coach Brian Brasseal said. “We should get a few wrestlers to the state meet, but it depends on who shows up and who doesn’t. It would take a really, really, really good job on our part to be a contender for the team title this weekend.”
Last season the Rockets sent 11 wrestlers to the 5A state meet, where they finished as the team runner-up. The 2007 Rocket’s team was a club with plenty of experience at both the sectional and state level.
“This is a very different team from last year,” Brasseal said. “We’ve got five or six guys who are first year wrestlers and then we’ve got some others athletes who are just freshman.”
Brasseal expects six or seven Rockets to qualify for the state meet and said three have legitimate chances of winning their weight class—DeRon Washington, Derek Hallmark and Brandon Painter.
Brasseal looks at this week’s section tournament as a chance to give his team a head start on next year’s campaign.
“We’re moving up to 6A next year and I’m not sure what sectional we’ll be in there,” he said. “That’s a big step up. I’m hoping this week will be a confidence boost for us, especially for our younger wrestlers to give up something to build on going into next year.”
5A, Section 2
While the Section 1 tournament may be up for grabs, the Section 2 tournament has a clear favorite.
“Scottsboro is the No. 1 team. There’s no question about that,” Hayden head coach Paul Moore said. “I’m hoping we can get into the Top 3. It should between Arab and us fighting for the runner-up spot, but Scottsboro is the best team.”
The Wildcats finished as in fourth place at last season section tourney and sent eight wrestlers on to the 5A state meet.
The Wildcats had a flu epidemic hit the team in the past week, but Moore is hoping the illness will be behind the Hayden athletes come Friday.
“Hopefully we won’t be weak from the flu, but we could be,” Moore said. “I hope it’s not going to be a factor.”
By Charles Prince