Cortez, who wrestles in the 113-pound class, finished runner-up the previous two years. The senior will face Susan Moore’s Ty Sissum for the championship.
“I think everything happens for a reason, and he’s where he’s at this weekend because of all the hard work he puts in,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “I think the result tomorrow will be favorable for us. I think it’s going to be a tough match, and we’re going to see who wants it more, but I think he’ll pull it out.”
Cortez advanced by pinning Austin Rhodes of Holt and Jack Peavey of Madison County on Friday.
Weaver entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win it all, but the Bearcats sit in sixth place heading into today’s action.
Including Cortez, Weaver has four athletes wrestling today. Blake Freeman (170), Jacob Howard (138) and Wil Mizic (132) will compete for third place in their respective divisions.
“We’ve wrestled tough, but we’ve just lost some really close matches,” Fulmer said. “We already have improved on last year’s performance. We had three kids place (last year), and we’ll have four this year.
“We started off kind of rough. As we wrestled throughout the day, we wrestled better and have had some tough luck here and there and just had some really tough matches this weekend.”
The consolation finals start at 9 a.m. for all classes. The championship finals will follow at 11:30 a.m.
Hannah Gladden fought for first-year program Ohatchee like it was for the state title in her consolation match Friday.
Gladden went toe-to-toe with Ethan Pippin of Westminster Christian for six minutes, blooding her opponent’s nose before it was over. Down by only a couple of points as the clock ticked down, Gladden was unable to make up the difference, falling by a 13-8 decision in the 1A-4A 138-pound weight class.
“My first year I didn’t really know anything about (state), but I worked hard and my goal was to get here,” Gladden said. “My goal is to make it to state again.”
Oxford qualified six wrestlers for the individual finals in 6A.
William Hardin (113), Jordan Simpson (132) and Hunter Lee (152) will compete for state championships today.
In the team standings, the Yellow Jackets saw their scores rise as high as third place before ending the day in seventh.
“This year is better than last year,” Oxford coach Monterrius Adams said. “We had one state champ, three guys in third place. This year, we have three in the state finals.”
Both Wellborn wrestlers who qualified for the 1A-4A state tournament will compete in today’s finals.
In the 106-pound class, Matt King has a chance to win a state title and get revenge against Zachery van Alst of Montgomery Catholic, who defeated King 8-4 at sectionals last week.
“Watching the match, it looked like they were sort of calling each other out for this week,” Panthers coach Matt Tanner said. “It was pretty adamant coming into this week that was going to be the finals match.”
“He’s going to have to wrestle his best match of the year. Van Alst has got a year on him and he’s won it. He’s been to the big match and he’s won it.”
Wellborn also saw its 138-pound wrestler, Matt Smith, qualify for the consolation finals despite suffering a high-ankle sprain and fractured fibula last week at sectionals.
As fate would have it, Smith was paired in the semifinals with the same wrestler he faced when he suffered the injuries, Gerald Smith of Fultondale. Matt Smith lost as Gerald Smith appeared to take advantage of his opponent’s injury.
“It’s one of those things where a wrestler and a coach are always going to look for an advantage,” Tanner said. “It’s a target.
“You can call it what you want or complain about it, but it’s a circumstance in the sport, as well as life, that you have to find a way to overcome it and even if it ends up not going your way, you still have to bounce back and find a way to finish your drill.”
When Pippin of Westminster Christian attempted to take advantage of Smith’s injury in the consolation semifinals, Smith found a way to finish, not only winning the match in a 12-1 decision, but also causing Pippin’s noise to bleed enough the match had to be stopped numerous times.
In 1A-4A, Saks’ young team will have a chance to rebound from this year’s appearance at state after none of its three qualifiers advanced to today’s finals.
“We got at least a win under our belt for each of them, so maybe that can be a catalyst for next year, and maybe they can place or win a medal,” Wildcats coach Rob Owens said. “That can be a goal they can set for themselves. I thought we’d do better, but you live and learn.”
Joseph Preston (132) fell in the first round of the consolations, while Stephen Snyder (145) and Steven Garmon (152) lost in the consolation semifinals.
Tanner Dixon was the only Piedmont wrestler to advance to today’s finals.
After being pinned by Dylan Harmon of Oak Grove in the 1A-4A championship semifinals, the 160-pound wrestler defeated Curtis Humphrey of Weaver 9-5 to advance to the consolation championship match.
Michael DeVoe (182) and Patrick Raney (195) each lost in the first round of the consolations, and Logan Moore (285) was pinned in the consolation semifinals.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.