HEFLIN — Over 150 people gathered Tuesday night for a Heflin City Council meeting at the Heflin recreation center to honor the 2020-2021 Cleburne County high school state champion wrestling team.
The meeting was moved to the rec center to accommodate the crowd which included past Cleburne County wrestlers and coaches.
It’s the third state championship the school has won, according to Principal Jeffrey Bryant, noting that the cheerleaders won a state championship last year and in the 1970s the school’s Special Olympics basketball team won a state championship.
In attendance at the meeting were two ex-wrestling coaches, Michael Shorrt and Gary Harper, and the current coach Jake Mayfield.
According to Bryant the state championship — the second state title since he has been principal at the school — is very special.
“It’s just huge for our community and for our school and our new Mayor Robby Brown to be able to do this at a City Council meeting,” said Bryant. “There’s a lot of wrestling history in this room — we’ve got Gary Harper, who’s the first wrestling coach who started the wrestling program here, he’s back, Coach Shortt is here, he did it for a long time, we’ve got Jake so it’s just good to have all these people in the room to celebrating wrestling.”
Shortt was very optimistic for the future of the sport at the school and said the championship is great for the school and community.
“It’s only going to get better because we’ve got one of the better youth programs around and that’s how it all starts, having a great youth program. That’s how Weaver was always so good,” said Shortt.
During the meeting the mayor recognized a wrestler from Heflin’s youth wrestling program, Brayden Contreras, who won the Alabama Youth Wrestling Organization heavyweight state championship for the last two years.
“He’s going to go on and do great things,” the mayor said.
Then the mayor recognized Gary Harper, who spoke about his career as a wrestling coach and his state titles his teams had won.
He addressed the state championship team and told them to not let the state title be the biggest accomplishment in their lives.
Harper told them to use the experience of having the state championship to navigate through life’s tough times and tribulations.
“Don’t let the state championship be the greatest thing you'll ever do,” said Harper.
After Harper spoke the mayor asked every past wrestler and coaches to line up in the front of the room for recognition. After that he asked for the entire 2020-2021 team to line up.
The council voted unanimously for a proclamation recognizing the accomplishment of the team and the mayor thanked each wrestler individually and gave each one a certificate.
After the business of wrestling was over, the mayor reminded the crowd that an Arbor Day celebration will be this Thursday at 3 p.m. on Ross Street at the Farmers Market.