A Fan's Guide to Alabama 6A State Tournament
We are excited to once again bring you "A Fan's Guide" to the AHSAA State Tournament that are taking place this coming weekend at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville. We are scheduled to cover the event and will be posting pics and results throughout the tournament - please look for that coverage on the results page. We are pleased to provide the casual fan an insider's look into each bracket and what may (or may not) happen over the course of the weekend. We make no predictions about who will win or grab one of the few spots on the podium For each weight class we provide a few bulletpoints to watch and then a copy of the bracket (which you can see for yourself on trackwrestling.com). Each weight class features:
- Favorite: Our favorite to win the weight class based on this past season and past performance.
- Contenders: A list of wrestlers that should challenge the favorite for the top step on the podium.
- Best 1st round match: The match we believe will be the closest during the 1st round of action.
- Darkhorse: A wrestler that did not finish 1st or 2nd in his/her area, but has all the tools to knock off everyone and take the top step.
- Bracket Breaker: A wrestler that finish 7th or 8th at the Sectional Tournament, but has the ability to be somewhere on the podium Saturday evening.
- Predicted Finals Match: Obviously who we believe will be in the finals.
Individual Notes: SQ = 2015 State Qualifier; 1st = 2015 State Champ; 2nd = 2015 State Runner-up, etc.
With 13 qualifiers and 5 Sectional Champions, the Arab Knights look like the team to beat. Pinson Valley has 12 qualifiers and 2 champions, Athens has 11 qualifiers and 1 champion, and Homewood has 11 qualifiers and 2 champions, but each looks overmatched against Arab. Five sectional champions and none of the Knights finished 7th or 8th puts Arab in a prime spot and it would be very surprising to see them falter. Oxford, who has 8 qualifiers and 2 champions, surprised everyone and took home the South Section title ... look for the Yellow Jackets to be knocking on a top 3 finish this weekend. The chase for the #2 spot behind Arab will be fun to watch.
- Favorite: Ty Naquin (Stanhope Elmore)
- Christian Lagunas (Athens)
- Andrew Smith (Southside-Gadsden)
- George Vazquez (Pinson Valley)
- RJ Lawhorn (McAdory)
- Best 1st Round Match: Ledbetter vs. Martin
- Darkhorse: Marshall Stone (Homewood)
- Bracket Breaker: Brandon Dent (Minor)
- Finals: Naquin vs. Lagunas
- Summary: Returning State Runner-up Ty Naquin of Stanhope Elmore assumes the favorite spot, but given the few matches that he has wrestled and the level of competition ... we would be okay with someone making the argument that Lagunas or someone else should be the favorite. Lagunas, a returning State Placer, has wrestled far and wide this season and has faced some of the best competition in the Southeast. Six of his 7 losses have come to wrestlers from either Georgia or Tennessee (and his other loss came to Chandler Akins of Thompson). Look for the quarterfinal match-ups to be very competitive. As many as five wrestlers have a legitimate shot at the top step ... we will know a great deal about bracket after the quarterfinal round.
- Favorite: John McAlpin (Scottsboro)
- Jacob Smith (Southside-Gadsden)
- Gage Hudson (Gulf Shores)
- Kurt Bryant (Baldwin County)
- Trent Young (Athens)
- Best 1st Round Match: Bartolome vs. Chisholm
- Darkhorse: Jacob Smith (Clay Chalkville)
- Bracket Breaker: Chris Tidmore (Arab)
- Finals: McAlpin vs. Smith
- Summary: Returning 106 lb. State Champion Jacob Smith had held the #1 (and favorite) spot for much of the year. In fact, he beat McAlpin earlier this season 7-3 and looked like an automatic for the top step in the North Section ... until McAlpin was able to get the fall. It seems like Smith and McAlpin are the two to beat heading into the state tournament, but that is only because we know so little about Gage Hudson, Kurt Bryant and the other wrestlers from down south. Bryant had beaten Hudson twice this season before Hudson beat him 10-0 in the South Section finals. It is hard to know how good Bryant, Hudson and the other wrestlers from the south section area because only one (Jason Priester of Hueytown qualified a season ago and he went 0-2 at 106). Regardless we will know soon enough ... watch for McAlpin and Smith, but don't sleep on the boys from down south - they could surprise.
- Favorite: Cameron Hamby (Pinson Valley)
- Seth Hyatt (Arab)
- Wesley Slick (Oxford)
- John West (Athens)
- Nathan Pender (Pell City)
- Best 1st Round Match: Daniels vs. Edwards
- Darkhorse: Coleman Kim (Gardendale)
- Bracket Breaker: Keanon Cortez (Austin)
- Finals: Hyatt vs. Hamby
- Summary: The North Section is very deep and should do very well in the opening rounds at 120. Hyatt and West are both returning State Placers and each lost to North Section Champion Cameron Hamby. Wesley Slick, Nathan Pender, and Saxon Coker qualified a season ago and should do well for the South Section. Given the depth of the North Section, we have several quarterfinal match-ups that should be very interesting. Keep an eye on two "potential" quarterfinals ... Slick vs. West and Kim vs. Pender. Hamby looked terrific last weekend and is the man to beat, but expect Hyatt, Slick, West, Kim, and Pender to give him a run for the top step.
- Favorite: Kolton Clark (Scottsboro)
- Aaron Ledbetter (Chelsea)
- Angelo Farrow (Opelika)
- Mac Boackle (Gardendale)
- Josh Walker (Pinson Valley)
- Best 1st Round Match: Snyder vs. Parker
- Darkhorse: Justin Ingram (Spanish Fort)
- Bracket Breaker: Steven Bell (McAdory)
- Finals: Clark vs. Ledbetter
- Summary: 2015 State Placer Kolton Clark assumes the favorite spot, but an argument could be made for returning 120 lb. State Champion Aaron Ledbetter of Chelsea. Regardless, if Clark and Ledbetter take care of business they will be able to sort that out Saturday afternoon. The bracket is tough, but Clark and Ledbetter have proven to be significantly better than the rest of the field. Clark enters with 4 losses, but two of those are to Mountain Brook's Drew Reed at 132 and 2 are to Georgia wrestlers (one of which - Matthew Sheetz of Lambert just won a state title in 6A at 132 last weekend). Ledbetter's losses have all come to Alabama wrestlers, but each one to a wrestler in 7A. So ... Clark and Ledbetter will likely sort things out themselves on Saturday. Keep an eye on State Placers Angelo Farrow of Opelika and Mac Boackle of Gardendale. Both finished 2nd at Sectionals and they have the best shot to knock off Clark and Ledbetter.
- Favorite: Andrew Schmitt (Arab)
- Marley Taylor (Athens)
- Bailey Roan (Homewood)
- Stephen Lathem (Southside-Gadsden)
- Andrew Queen (Benjamin Russell)
- Best 1st Round Match: Harmon vs. Collier
- Darkhorse: Joe Harmon (Chelsea)
- Bracket Breaker: Justin Collier (Lee-Huntsville)
- Finals: Taylor vs. Schmitt
- Summary: Returning State Qualifier Andrew Schmitt of Arab enters as the favorite. Schmitt is 56-7 on the year and has lost just once to another 6A wrestler (Kolton Clark who is now at 126). Several losses have come to 7A competition, one came to Chase Phillips of Hayden (1A-5A) and the others have come to wrestlers from out of the state. His 4-2 win over Collier and 12-7 win over Marley Taylor show that the difference between the favorite and the field isn't significant. Homewood's Bailey Roan, who came from the #4 seed at last week's sectional tournament to take the title, and Marley Taylor should battle it out on the top side. Keep an eye on the Harmon/Collier 1st round match and the winner vs. Schmitt in the bottom quarter.
- Favorite: Vershone Graham (Wetumpka)
- Joseph Green (Muscle Shoals)
- Sam Colvin (Southside-Gadsden)
- Quintez Pearson (Oxford)
- Ian Hilyer (Ft Payne)
- Best 1st Round Match: Jones vs. Birdsong
- Darkhorse: Javonic Turner (Homewood)
- Bracket Breaker: Eric Rogers (Pinson Valley)
- Finals: Green vs. Graham
- Summary: One of the best weight classes in 6A. Very difficult to pick a favorite because many different wrestlers have had success against another in the field this season ... for example: Green beat Graham 3-2, but lost to Pearson 16-7 (after having beaten him earlier in the season). State Placer Sam Colvin beat returning 138 lb. State Runner-up Ian Hilyer, but lost to Green in the Sectional Finals. What does it all mean? As many as six wrestlers have a legitimate shot at taking the top step ... it will really depend on match-ups and who is wrestling well. This is a fan-friendly weight class and should feature several exciting matches.
- Favorite: Landon Thompson (Southside-Gadsden)
- Hasaan Hawthorne (Pelham)
- Javon Cortez (Arab)
- Jamarez Hall (Benjamin Russell)
- Justin Carty (Clay Chalkville)
- Best 1st Round Match: McDaniel vs. Kusiak
- Darkhorse: Hunter Lindsey (Athens)
- Bracket Breaker: David Dunford (Hartselle)
- Finals: Hawthorne vs. Thompson
- Summary: A trio of 2015 State Placers (Hawthorne, Cortez, and Thompson) should battle it out for the top step this weekend. Pelham's Hasaan Hawthorne finished 3rd at 160 in 2015 and is an impressive 33-0 on the season. He has wrestled much of the year at 160 and 152 and dropped to make 145 interesting at the end of the season. 2015 132 lb. State Runner-up Landon Thompson has also looked very tough all season, losing just twice ... to Oak Mountain's Michael John Harris and Camden's (GA) Denton Spencer. His pin of Hunter Lindsey of Athens and 8-2 win over Javon Cortez of Arab last week made him the man to beat this weekend. Cortez has also been dominant in 2015-2016 and should make the top side of the bracket very interesting. Keep an eye on returning State Placer David Dunford of Hartselle ... he could wreck havoc in the 3rd quarter of the bracket.
- Favorite: Nick Cater (Arab)
- Dillon Turner (Pelham)
- Noah Bradford (Southside-Gadsden)
- Issac Jackson (Park Crossing)
- Jaret Gallops (Wetumpka)
- Best 1st Round Match: Brannon vs. Griffin
- Darkhorse: Luis Palacios (Clay Chalkville)
- Bracket Breaker: Ethan Kilgo (Ft Payne)
- Finals: Cater vs. Bradford
- Summary: Returning 145 lb. State Champion Noah Bradford was the favorite heading into last week's sectional ... he had beaten Cater earlier in the season and had yet to wrestle Turner. But Cater's 6-2 win in the North Section Finals vaulted him to the favorite spot. Cater has the easier path to the finals and should be waiting on either Bradford or Turner on Saturday afternoon. Keep an eye on Issac Jackson of Park Crossing. The returning State Qualifier had 3 falls before falling to Turner in the South Section Finals.
- Favorite: Brett Clark (Scottsboro)
- Nick Thrasher (Chelsea)
- Garrett Clarke (Athens)
- Jabari Blackmon (Homewood)
- Khymel Chaverst (Pinson Valley)
- Best 1st Round Match: Garrison vs. Melton
- Darkhorse: Devin Hackworth (McAdory)
- Bracket Breaker: Thomas Coley (Benjamin Russell)
- Finals: Clarke vs. Clark
- Summary: The top side of the bracket is a bit of the wild west ... there should be some exciting matches and it looks like the top side spot in the final could go to at least five different wrestlers. Thrasher has yet to wrestle either Coley or Clarke, but he did lose to Chaverst earlier this season. Clarke beat Chaverst 6-2 to advance to the North Section Finals last week and has wrestled very well all season. The bottom side features Blackmon and Hackworth, but neither is close to defending 152 lb. State Champion Brett Clark. His 39-4 record (we believe) includes 3 forfeit losses at the Scott Rohrer Invitational. His one loss on the mat happened at the McCallie Invitational to 2x Georgia State Champion Cody Cochran of Woodland ... he lost 4-2 in a very good match. Clark is the man to beat ... can anyone knock him off and prevent him from taking home another title?
- Favorite: Matt King (Oxford)
- Will Spencer (Arab)
- Thomas Carter (Athens)
- Carlos dan Figueroa-Ordono (Homewood)
- Tanner Woodall (Scottsboro)
- Best 1st Round Match: Watkins vs. Marshall
- Darkhorse: Giovanni Adan (Pelham)
- Bracket Breaker: Adam Tickal (Opelika)
- Finals: Spencer vs. King
- Summary: One of the best weight classes in 6A. Defending 138 lb. State Champion Matt King of Oxford took home the South Section title last week over 170 lb. State Placer Carlos dan Figueroa-Ordono of Homewood and 152 lb. State Placer Will Spencer of Arab outlasted 160 lb. State Placer Thomas Carter of Athens 6-5 to take the North Section title. Add in Tanner Woodall of Scottsboro, Giovanni Adan of Pelham, and others and you have a very competitive field. The quarterfinals should be fun to watch, but you won't want to miss the semifinal matches. Spencer did not meet Figueroa-Ordono when Arab met Homewood in their dual and King and Carter have also not wrestled this season. Assuming the top four advance ... those will be some great semifinal matches. King is our favorite heading into the weekend, but any of the four can claim the top step.
- Favorite: Austin Weldon (Clay Chalkville)
- Carlos Miguel Figueroa (Homewood)
- Ryan Grider (Scottsboro)
- Dante Johnsey (Spanish Fort)
- Weston Partain (Arab)
- Best 1st Round Match: Montgomery vs. Prater
- Darkhorse: Trevor Leonard (Wetumpka)
- Bracket Breaker: Tyler Johnson (Pinson Valley)
- Finals: Grider vs. Weldon
- Summary: Returning State Runner-up Austin Weldon has had a terrific season and is our favorite to capture the 6A 182 lb. title this weekend. Weldon's impressive 8-3 win over Thad Prater and 9-4 win over Ryan Grider cemented his position. Dante Johnsey and Trevor Leonard will look to challenge Weldon on the bottom side, but it would be a surprise to see anyone but Weldon in the finals from that side of the bracket. The top side is wide open and should feature two outstanding quarterfinals and a terrific semifinal match. Figueroa downed Arab's Partain 1-0 earlier this season and the two will likely meet again in bout 473. Montgomery vs. Prater should be one of the best opening round matches of the tournament ... the winner will likely get returning 182 lb. State Runner-up Ryan Grider of Scottsboro. Grider has not wrestled Montogmery, Prater or Figueroa this season, but has beaten Partain twice. Be sure to watch the top side of this bracket.
- Favorite: Dawson McDaniel (Arab)
- Karl Nagel (Pelham)
- Andrew Freeman (Gardendale)
- Jackson Jones (Clay Chalkville)
- Logan Smith (Stanhope Elmore)
- Best 1st Round Match: Norris vs. Rawls
- Darkhorse: Travis Woodall (Scottsboro)
- Bracket Breaker: Jajuan Butts (Huffman)
- Finals: McDaniel vs. Freeman
- Summary: McDaniel's 2-1 win over Freeman in the North Section Finals vaulted him to the favorite spot. McDaniel, the returning 195 lb. State Runner-up, and Freeman, a returning 195 lb. State Placer are likely to battle it out again in the finals. Nagel, also a returning 195 lb. State Placer, obliterated the South Section and will be Freeman's greatest challenge to reaching the finals. A Nagel vs. Freeman semifinal would be worth the price of admission. The rest of the field is a few steps back from the top 3 and it would be a surprise to see anyone other than McDaniel, Freeman, or Nagel in the finals. Keep an eye on Travis Woodall of Scottsboro in the 2nd quarter of the bracket.
- Favorite: Justavious Robinson (Benjamin Russell)
- Trent Holley (Wetumpka)
- Ian Scott (Arab)
- Reynard Ellis (Shades Valley)
- Jocquez Dixon (Park Crossing)
- Best 1st Round Match: Woods vs. Lawrence
- Darkhorse: Tobias Miller (Decatur)
- Bracket Breaker: Jacob Holsomback (McAdory)
- Finals: Robinson vs. Holley
- Summary: Returning State Placer Justavious Robinson of Benjamin Russell enters as the favorite at 220. Robinson's win over Holley at last week's South Sectional and his win over Ian Scott earlier this year puts him in the leader spot. Holley downed Scott 6-5 earlier this season and a rematch looks likely in the bottom semifinal. Keep an eye on Shades Valley's Reynard Ellis, Park Crossing's Jocquez Dixon, and Hueytown's Jamal Woods. Each has the ability to beat anyone in the field.
- Favorite: Daniel Bland (Benjamin Russell)
- Jacob Andrews (Stanhope Elmore)
- Taylor Rhodes (Pinson Valley)
- Clay Webb (Oxford)
- Keiland Clayton (Clay Chalkville)
- Best 1st Round Match: Berry vs. Williams
- Darkhorse: Dakota Birdyshaw (Walker)
- Bracket Breaker: Seth Kent (Pell City)
- Finals: Andrews vs. Bland
- Summary: For the last few years, the 6A 285 weight class has belonged to Benjamin Russell's Daniel Bland. Bland returns one last time for another individual title and it would be a surprise if anyone knocked him off. Clayton, Lavender, Birdyshaw and others will try to keep him from another final on the bottom side, but the best action will likely happen on the top side. Pinson Valley's Taylor Rhodes downed Keiland Clayton to take the North Section title. Rhodes' primary competition will likely come from Clay Webb of Oxford and Jacob Andrews of Stanhope Elmore. Andrews is just one of two 285's to knock off Rhodes this season ... a 7-4 decision in their dual. Keep an eye on Benjamin Berry of Decatur ... he could be a surprise.