Eight members of Lincoln High School’s wrestling team will travel to Huntsville today to compete in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A-5A State Championships at the Von Braun Center.
Golden Bears seniors Dazhone Finley (49-3), Austin Creamer (37-7), Keyshon Townsend (36-13) and Brennen Barber (29-15) will wrestle in the 138-, 120-, 195- and 152-pound weight classes, respectively. Juniors Quin Cotten (36-10) and Lavont Finley (32-22) will grapple in the 145 and 132 brackets, while sophomore Landon McLendon (27-19, 160) and freshman Jamichael Finley (35-14, 113) round out the group.
Lincoln head coach Skylar Mansfield said none in this group have reached the finals or won a state championship, but coming home with hardware isn’t a goal that’s out of reach.
“That’s what we’re banking on is to come back with a champion or a couple of champions,” he said. “We have some uncharted waters with this group. All of the kids that we have, they’re returning wrestlers and a group of great leaders.”
He added his wrestlers bring plenty of motivation and effort.
“They push each other and practice hard,” Mansfield said. “The good thing is to have some brothers. We’ve got two Creamers and four Finleys on our team, so it creates a great atmosphere as far as competition and them holding each other accountable. It’s a really good group, really easy to coach and probably the best and most respectful kids I’ve ever had.
“We’ve had some great groups in years past, but this right here is a special group, I feel, because they’ve been there for a while, they know me, they know the routine that we go through and they know how to go about business.”
Mansfield said the weight classes in which his wrestlers compete will be challenging.
“All of the weight classes are very competitive,” he said. “They have some really good records thrown in. The top seeds from each weight class are very deserving. The hardest one for us, I’d probably say, is the 145 weight class because you’ve got about three guys who’ve wrestled in the finals before and have got experience of being in that match.”
Another goal Mansfield said he has for the Golden Bears is to continue to improve and advance beyond the preliminary round.
“Each year, we just try to get these guys to understand the importance of trying to win a match and the reason that they’re there,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to win a state championship, but we want these guys to get some experience to where they can win at least one or two matches at their level.
“Not only will it be big for their personal seeding next year, but it’ll also be big as far as scoring team points and putting us in a great position to finish as the top team in the state.”
Mansfield said he appreciates the work put in by his assistant coaches, Brian Kelley and Tanner McBurnett.
“They really push these kids, motivate these kids and do a lot of the work that you don’t see as far as managing a program and making sure these kids are well-prepared, whether it’s film or working on technique,” Mansfield said. “We’ve just built a nice little program. They have these kids prepared and ready to win.”
Other wrestlers in the The Daily Home’s coverage area set to compete in the tournament include:
- Pell City: Eighth-grader Jake Wiley (13-20, 106), senior Blaze Isbell (57-13, 120), senior Mason Shell (21-13, 126), junior Harrison Fausnaugh (37-20, 132), senior Dylan Thomas (43-22, 138), senior Aidan Golden (41-28, 145), senior Tillman Patterson (43-25, 152), freshman Riley Surles (15-17, 160), senior Tanner Clowdus (55-16, 170) and junior Mason Barnes (39-25, 195).
- Alabama School for the Blind: Senior Tanner Wood (36-12, 138).