Wrestling tradition in the area has the chance to write another chapter in this week’s state tournament.
Oxford, winner the past two 6A titles and past three 6A duals titles, goes to Huntsville as the North sectional champion under first-year coach Kyle Routon. The Yellow Jackets’ group will include sectional winners Landon Burrage (126) and Reed Hill (152).
Alexandria’s Christian Knop, a senior and North Carolina State signee, goes with the chance to build on history. If he wins out in Huntsville, his state-record winning streak will end at 235 matches, 34 more than Weaver legend Mike Sutton. Knop can become the first Alabama wrestler to win four consecutive state titles while going unbeaten in those seasons.
Factor in his 86-32 record as a seventh- and eighth grader, and Knop can finish with 321 total wins, which would pass Scottsboro’s Nick Boyette (319) for third place. Scottsboro’s Brandon Womack tops the list at 422, followed by Buckhorn’s Ben Smith with 326.
Alexandria will have a strong contingent that includes past state champion Jaden New. He and Fletcher Swindall won their weight classes at the 1A-5A South sectional.
Past state champion Caleb Allison (220 pounds) highlights Weaver’s group of five qualifiers, along with sectional winner Travis Bellar (106).
Pleasant Valley’s Skyler McLeod (145) and Treven Coheley (160) qualified, and Piedmont’s Evan Cooper (285) finished first at sectional.
Ranburne finished third at sectional and will bring one of its strongest teams. Cleburne County’s group will include sectional winners Shane Beason (138) and Zachary Williamson (152).
In all, coverage-area schools have produced 18 team state champions, led by Weaver’s nine, and several individual titles. This year’s state tournament, which starts today and runs through Saturday at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center, promises to add to the area’s rich history in the sport.
—It’s been quite a week at Pleasant Valley. The school recognized its first-ever state champion in boys’ sports with Monday’s ring ceremony for the cross-country team. That team includes McLeod, one of the school’s two state-qualifying wrestlers who will be in action this week. A few months after the football team completed its best season in years, finishing 5-5 and a game out of the playoffs, offensive lineman Tristen Salster and Carson Brazier signed with Point University, Salster on Monday and Brazier on Tuesday. Softball standout Savannah Williams, the 2017 Calhoun County 1A-3A player of the year, signed with Central Alabama Community College on Wednesday. Her teammate, Cortney Williams, signed with Coastal Community College on Jan. 28. It’s a good week to be a Raider, and congrats to all!
—Speaking of signings, Oxford athletics director Larry Davidson said the school has a mass signing tentatively scheduled for Feb. 27. The group of seven or eight athletes will represent several sports, he said. Stay tuned for more details.
—Faith Christian also got big news this week, in volleyball and tennis. Volleyball head coach Justin Kisor will be on the North All-Star staff, and junior Sydnee Johnson will play in the game, the school announced on its social media pages this week. The Alabama High School Athletic Association typically notifies those selected before publicly releasing the teams. Kisor’s and Johnson’s selections come after Faith reached the 1A semifinals this past season. Kisor was the Calhoun County 1A-3A coach of the year, and Johnson was an honorable-mention all-county selection. The All-Star Sports Week will be July 16-18 in Montgomery. Also, Faith tennis standout Jac Myrick will sign with Gadsden State on March 1.
—Big countywide events loom. The rest of the county championships schedule is as follows: baseball, March 8-12 with March 13 as a rain date at Choccolocco Park; boys and girls soccer, April 4-6 at Choccolocco Park; boys and girls golf, April 5-6 at Pine Hill; track and field, April 8 at Choccolocco Park; softball, April 9-12 at Choccolocco Park.