From left, Gardendale’s Zach Bowen and Fultondale’s Brett Pennington battle in the first round of the Jefferson County wrestling tournament Friday night at North Jefferson Middle School. Pennington would win and eventually moved to the semi-finals.

By Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News

KIMBERLY — The Fultondale Wildcats moved toward a history-making victory for the school as they took the lead in the Jefferson County Wrestling tournament after the first two rounds on Friday night.

The Wildcats hold an 11-point advantage over McAdory heading into today’s final rounds of action.

“We’ve finished fourth four times in the county tournament,” Fultondale head coach Billy Hughes said. “We’re in good shape right now to do something we’ve never done. To win a Jefferson County title would be another first and another step for the Fultondale program.”

The Wildcats have seven wrestlers through to the championship semi-finals, including Aaron Martin at 112 pounds, Cody Evans at 119, Ryan Randall at 125, Chris Self at 130, Brett Pennington at 135, Alec Williams at 152 and Cody Hatcher at 215.

Gardendale sets in third and Mortimer Jordan sets in fourth after the first day of competition.

The Rockets have eight wrestlers through to the semi-finals including Bradley Bowen at 103, Conner Hayman at 119, Derrick Hallmark at 125, Daniel Swann at 130, Brandon Painter at 140, Andrew Todd at 152, DeRon Washington at 160 and Joe Jones in the heavyweight division.

Mortimer Jordan also advanced eight wrestlers to the semi-finals, including Brandon Brindley at 103, Travis Shellnut at 125, Ricky Coe at 135, Matt Barnett at 145, James Stewart at 160, Rob Glenn at 189 and Zac Payne at 215.

“The top four will fight it out of the title,” Mortimer Jordan head coach Terry Tingle said. “It’s still up for grabs, but Fultondale has the best chance to win it.”

Gardendale head coach Brian Brasseal wasn’t expecting his Rockets to be this close to the leaders after the first day.

“I’m a bit surprised to be this high up,” he said. “Most of my guys have done an outstanding job tonight. Getting eight wrestlers into the semi-finals is really big. I’m not sure who will win it, but I’d be happy to see us finish in the top three. If we’re going to do that, though, we’ve got to get some great efforts from our guys.”

Fultondale’s Hughes thinks if his wrestlers who lost on the opening day can reach the consolation finals, the Wildcats could make history and take home their first state title.

“I was expecting everyone to be bunched closer together, but now that we’re in this position, we can win it if we pick up enough points in the consolation bracket. If we can get our kids to wrestle their best, we should have a chance to win this thing tomorrow.”

Two-time defending champion and Wildcat senior Williams, won both of his matches by pins on Friday as he easily moved into position to win a third Jefferson County individual weight class title.

However, for the senior, winning the team crown would mean even more to him.

“This would be great for Fultondale to win our first county title,” Williams said. “To win a county title in my senior year would be really special. I think if we win it, we’ll show this is a special Fultondale wrestling team.”

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