Alabama Class 1A-5A State Tournament Fan's Guide

We are excited to bring you "A Fan's Guide" to the AHSAA State Tournaments that are taking place this coming weekend in Huntsville.  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.  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 most entertaining during the 1st round of action.
  • Darkhorse: A wrestler that did not finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in his/her section, but has all the tools to knock off everyone and take the top step.
  • Bracket Buster: A wrestler that finished 5th (or lower) in his/her sectional, but has the ability to be somewhere on the podium on Saturday evening.
  • Predicted Finals Match: Obviously who we believe will be in the finals.

A few notes before we have a look at each weight class.  First, we provide a copy of the bracket (a screenshot from trackwrestling) at the bottom of each "narrative".  Second, it is important to state that much of what is written below is not revolutionary.  It has some opinion, but is largely based on data.  Remember ... this is not designed as a prediction.  Rather it is written to help those sitting in the stands understand our great sport and what to watch over the next two days.

  • A Favorite will almost always be one of the two sectional champions ... and the list of contenders will have the other sectional champion and both sectional runners-up as well.  The list of contenders might include other wrestlers, but it will always include the sectional champions and runners-up. The reason ... every 2016 7A State Champion was a Sectional Champion except James Edwards of Vestavia at 220 (whre he was the sectional runner-up).  
  • Every 7A state final was either a section champion vs. a section champion or a rematch of the section champion vs. the section runner-up, except one.  And this is where our darkhorse or in 1A-5A and 6A our bracket breaker comes in ... Seth Bruder of James Clemons took 4th the previous week and won both of his matches to get to the finals (eventually losing to Davis Perry).  It doesn't happen often, but there is always a chance that a #3, #4 (or in 1A-5A and 6A a #5-#8) can find a way to the finals.

NOTE: I have tried to correct any incorrect names or grades, but I'm certain a few have slipped through the cracks.  Apologies for anyone that has incorrect information posted in the brackets ... the summaries are written largely from what has been produced in the brackets.  Team

  • Favorite: 
    • Arab - The defending 6A Champs have dropped to 1A-5A this season and have continued to roll along.  The Knights captured the first ever 1A-5A dual state title over Moody a few weeks ago and rolled to an easy North Section Title over Hayden, Jemison, etc. last weekend.  The 4 Section Champions goes a long way to putting them as the favorites, more than any other team in 1A-5A, but it is the 6 runners-up that give Arab the depth to push their team score out of reach of the pack.  Add in Peyton Weber who finished 3rd at 126 and Arab has 11 of their 14 wrestlers with a legitimate shot at a spot on the podium.  That will be tough to beat.
  • Contenders:
    • Tier 1
      • Moody, Tallassee, Cleburne County, and Leeds headline the tier 1 teams chasing the Knights.  Moody outlasted Tallassee and Cleburne County to take the South Section title last weekend, with Leeds finishing 5th.  Moody has one fewer qualifier than Tallassee (11 vs. 12), but might have the best shot to topple Arab.  Moody brings 3 section champs and 3 3rd place finishers to Huntsville this weekend.  If they can get Dustin Davis, Cory Land, and/or Daniel Vazquez to make the podium, they could pressure Arab.  Tallassee qualified 11 with 2 section champs, 1 runner-up and 1 3rd place finisher.  Expect them and Moody to be in a dog fight for the #2 spot behind Arab.  Tallassee had 8 other wrestlers finish #4-#8 ... meaning if they can get points from Haynes, Jeter, Deem, etc. they can certainly take 2nd (and possibly push Arab for #1).  Cleburne County qualified 10 and it would be a reach for them (or Leeds who qualified 9) to push Arab for the top spot, but both teams have the wrestlers to knock off Moody and Cleburne County for second.  Both Cleburne County and Leeds have 4 wrestlers that finished in the top 3 (meaning their chances of making the podium are better than average) ... it will come down to how well the #4's like Christian Seale for Cleburne County or Ryan Dozier and Sgae Hughes of Leeds wrestle this weekend.  If Seale, Dozier, Hughes, and the others that finished #5-#8 can score points ... both Cleburne County and Leeds can pressure Moody and Tallassee.
    • Tier 2
      • Dora, Hayden, Jemison, Alexandria, and Weaver lead the chase pack.  Each has at least one section champ (Alexandria and Dora have 2 and Weaver has 3) and other wrestlers that finished in the top 3.  For these five teams to crack the top 5 they must ... 1. have no wrestler go 0-2 (they have fewer #'s than the teams they are chasing), 2. get bonus points when they are available, and 3. win head-to-head matches with teams that are above them.  Each of the five has the hammers to make a run ... whether they do or not will come down to how well they wrestle this weekend.  Look for Mortimer Jordan, Walter Wellborn, Holtville, and Madison County to be in the hunt ... at least 2 of those teams should finish in the top 8 (or top 10).  

106 lbs.

  • Favorite: Jailen Young (SR) - Jemison
  • Contenders:
    • Joseph Martin (SO) - Arab
    • Jaden New (7th) - Alexandria
    • Cody Souder (8th) - Weaver
    • Will Jeffcoat (SO) - Leeds
    • Jackson Elder (SO - American Christian
  • Best 1st Round Match: Robertson vs. Land
  • Darkhorse: Trinity Robertson
  • Bracket Breaker: Quinton Jeter (SO) - Tallassee
  • Finals: Young vs. Martin
  • What to Watch: Momentum.  2016 State Placer Jailen Young avenged earlier losses to Martin to capture the North Section Title with a solid 6-1 decision.  It doesn't appear that Martin and Jaden New of Alexandria have faced one another this season and they are now on the same side of the bracket.  Add in a very tough Jackson Elder, who lost to New 3-0 earlier this season, on the bottom side and New's path to the finals is difficult.  Young's path is also difficult with Will Jeffcoat and Cody Souder of the top side ... Young has yet to face either.  

113 lbs.

  • Favorite: Macon Edwards (JR) - Fultondale
  • Contenders:
    • Stephen Williams (SR) - Moody
    • Sammy Cotton (SO) - Walter Wellborn
    • Shawn Winland (JR) - Oak Grove
    • Kaleb Matthews (FR) - Alexandria
    • Landon Castleberry (JR) - Hayden
  • Best 1st Round Match: Turner vs. Collins
  • Darkhorse: Zack Haynes (FR) - Tallassee
  • Bracket Breaker: Dylan Turner (JR) - Cleburne County
  • Finals: Williams vs. Edwards
  • What to Watch: Edwards is the defending 106 lb. State Champion and has pretty much rolled through everyone this season.  Shawn Winland finally slowed him down in the North Section Finals and kept the score within reach, eventually losing 3-1.  Edwards hasn't faced Williams, Cotton, or a few others in the bracket, but he is the clear favorite heading into the weekend.  Good bracket overall with several wrestlers that are close and could knock off a #1 or #2.  

120 lbs.

  • Favorite: John McAlpin (JR) - Scottsboro
  • Contenders:
    • Will Patterson (SR) - Moody
    • Fletcher Swindall (SO) - Alexandria
    • Garrett McClendon (SO) - Arab
    • Jackson Howard (SO) - St James
    • Kage Robertson (JR) - Sumiton Christian
  • Best 1st Round Match: Vierra vs. Watson
  • Darkhorse: Tristan Watson (SO) - Holtville
  • Bracket Breaker: Evan Vierra (FR) - New Hope
  • Finals: McAlpin vs. Patterson
  • What to Watch: 2016 6A 113 lb. State Runner-up John McAlpin of Scottsboro has been outstanding all season and enters as the favorite at 120.  McAlpin, the #3 seed last week, had 2 falls and a 16-2 major decision over Garrett McClendon en route to the North Section title.  He was pushed in the semifinal by returning 106 lb. State Runner-up Zachary Clayton, beating him 4-2 in overtime.  Patterson hammered Coker and Watson en route to the South Section final.  His 6-3 decision over Fletcher Swindall in the finals sets him up to make a run to the finals.  Patterson and McClendon have split this season, so that semifinal matchup (assuming they both make it there) could be one to watch.  Note: Patterson's spot in the finals is not a forgone conclusion, Patterson has also split with Robertson this season (his likely quarterfinal opponent).  Clayton vs. Swindall looks like an outstanding quarterfinal ... do not miss bout 298.

126 lbs.

  • Favorite: Nick Souder (SR) - Weaver
  • Contenders:
    • Brantley McHugh (JR) - Madison County
    • Sebastian Berres (FR) - Jemison
    • Max Miller (SR) - St Clair County
    • Peyton Weber (JR) - Arab
    • D'Shawn Skinner (SR) - Moody
  • Best 1st Round Match: Hughes vs. Melton
  • Darkhorse: Seth Ingram (SR) - Sumiton Christian
  • Bracket Breaker: Chase Melton (SR) - Fultondale
  • Finals: Souder vs. McHugh
  • What to Watch: Souder has stood atop the podium several times and will look to cap off a great high school career with another title this Saturday.  He dominated the South Sectional bracket with 4 consecutive falls and has lost just one this season, to Gabe Hixenbaugh of Thompson.  McHugh's only loss to an Alabama wrestler this season was to Souder in the finals of the Gene Taylor Memorial in early December.  He looked very good en route to the North Section title last weekend and by winning the section, is on the opposite side of Souder.  McHugh hasn't faced Ingram, Gaines, or Skinner this season ... so could a surprise be lurking on the bottom side?  He did down Max Miller 3-1 in the finals of the Jeremy Ragsdale Tournament several weeks ago.  Keep an eye on Chase Melton in the 2nd quarter of the bracket ... he already has a win by fall over Hughes earlier this season and will be looking for a rematch with Berres.

132 lbs.

  • Favorite: Michael Land (SR) - Moody
  • Contenders:
    • Seth Hyatt (SR) - Arab
    • Jordan Price (SR) - Tallassee
    • Tanner Hallmark (JR) - Hayden
    • Tommy Woodall (SR) - Sumiton Christian
    • Jordan Medders (FR) - Alexandria
  • Best 1st Round Match: Rinehard vs. Poole
  • Darkhorse: Chase Cunningham (FR) - Fultondale
  • Bracket Breaker: Jakob Poole (SO) - East Limestone
  • Finals: Hyatt vs. Land
  • What to Watch: Land is the defending 126 lb. State Champion.  He has pieced together a very nice senior campaign with 57 wins and just 2 losses (to Zachary Van Alst and TN State Champ Raymond Eason of Father Ryan).  He has some solid wins over several wrestlers in the bracket and is considered the favorite.  He was challenged last weekend by Tallassee's Jordan Price in the South Section final, winning 5-4.  Price, a 2016 State Placer, and Hyatt, the 120 lb. State Runner-up in 2016, are the favorites on the top side.  Price and Hyatt haven't met this season, but don't sleep on Smotherman, Medders, Cunningham, Beason, etc.  The path isn't easy for either Hyatt or Price.  On the bottom side ... Land has beaten Hallmark, but hasn't wrestled Woodall, Hallmark has beaten Woodall (and hasn't faced Rinehard).

138 lbs.

  • Favorite: Zachary Van Alst (SR) - Montgomery Catholic
  • Contenders:
    • Chace Phillips (SR) - Hayden
    • Clay Jones (JR) - Arab
    • Zachary Williamson (FR) - Cleburne County
    • Rashad Clark (SO) - Moody
    • Isiah Franklin (JR) - Jemison
  • Best 1st Round Match: Womack vs. Bahrik
  • Darkhorse: Gannon Womack (SR) - Alexandria
  • Bracket Breaker: Bruin Hathcock (FR) - Tallassee
  • Finals: Van Alst vs. Phillips
  • What to Watch: Van Alst will look to become just the 3rd 6x State Champion in Alabama with a victory this weekend.  Van Alst is easily the man to beat, but 2016 126 lb. State Runner-up Chace Phillips of Hayden is 57-1 and will look to spoil the party.  Phillips, like Van Alst, has wrestled many of the best 138's in the state and showdown between the two seems like a very real possibility.  Both easily handled their sectional tournaments and it would be a surprise if anyone else made it to the final match.  Keep an eye on Clay Jones, Zachary Williamson, and the rest of the pack ... if something happens to either Van Alst or Phillips, that group is more than capable of stepping in and making a run for the top step.

145 lbs.

  • Favorite: Carial Tarter (JR) - Mortimer Jordan
  • Contenders:
    • Chandler Teems - Leeds
    • Kolton Clark (SO) - Scottsboro
    • Aaron Whittaker (JR) - Alexandria
    • Brady Richardson (JR) - Holtville
    • Jaquan Rhodes (SR) - Jemison
  • Best 1st Round Match: Cochran vs. Wages
  • Darkhorse: Jay Spencer (SO) - St John Paul II
  • Bracket Breaker: Zach Cochran (SR) - Hayden
  • Finals: Tarter vs. Teems
  • What to Watch: Perhaps the best (most competitive) weight class in 1A-5A.  Tarter, Richardson, Whittaker, Teems, Clark, Rhodes, have all been on the podium previously and each is looking to take the top step in 2017.  Tarter, a 2016 State Runner-up, took out returning 6A 126 lb. State Champion Kolton Clark 6-3 to capture the North Section title.  Teems had 2 falls, a 7-1 decision, and an 8-0 major over Whittaker in the finals to take the South Section title.  Because this weight is so deep, the quality matches early in the tournament are plentiful.  Camp vs. Richardson, Spencer, vs. Davis, Cochran vs. Wages, and Rhodes vs. Lindsey could all be excellent first round matches.  What that means is that the quarters should be very competitive, whether you are #1 or #2.  Be sure to watch the following potential match-ups later in the tournament ... Tarter vs. Richardson, Rhodes vs. Teems, and Teems vs. Clark - not saying that is the way it will play out, but those are some excellent potential matches.

152 lbs.

  • Favorite: Tyler Mayfield (SR) - Cleburne County
  • Contenders:
    • Tristen Blair (SR) - Dora
    • Dawson Anderson (SR) - Leeds
    • Patrick Harden (JR) - Arab
    • Dalton Chandler (SR) - Sumiton Christian
    • Rio Reyes (SO) - Tallassee
  • Best 1st Round Match: Vazquez vs. Marmann
  • Darkhorse: Channing Marmann (SO) - Deshler
  • Bracket Breaker: Spencer Jordan (FR) - Ranburne
  • Finals: Mayfield vs. Anderson
  • What to Watch: South Section Champ Tyler Mayfield and South Section Runner-up Dawson Anderson appear to be the favorites on each side of the bracket.  Mayfield won the South Section with a pair of falls, a 15-0 technical fall, and then a tough 10-7 decision over Anderson.  According to trackwrestling, Mayfield's only loss on the season came to Anderson's teammate Chandler Teems 4-1 at 145 lbs.  North Section runner-up Patrick Harden, Cody Gibson of Holtville, Dalton Chandler of Sumiton Christian, and others all have the ability to knock off the returning State Runner-up (Mayfield), but given the way he has been wrestling, that seems unlikely.  Anderson assumes the favorite role on the bottom side after downing North Section Champion Tristen Blair 15-4 earlier this season.  In fact, Anderson has been outstanding this season only losing to some of the top 152's in the state (Landon Thompson of Southside-Gadsden, Houston Curtis of Huntsville, etc.).  The bottom side with Blair, Anderson, Marmann, Reyes, etc. appears to be the tougher road to the final.

160 lbs.

  • Favorite: Will Spencer (SR) - Arab
  • Contenders:
    • Shon'Derrious Spralling (SR) - Jemison
    • Brandon Franklin (SR) - Leeds
    • Clayton Conner (SR) - Walter Wellborn
    • Seth Shelton (SR) - Madison County
    • Cody Conner (SR) - St Clair County
  • Best 1st Round Match: Richardson vs. Ballard
  • Darkhorse: Dalton Steadman (SR) - Sumiton Christian
  • Bracket Breaker: Jason Higgins (JR) - Cleburne County
  • Finals: Spencer vs. Spralling
  • What to Watch: Will Spencer, the defending 6A 170 lb. State Champion, is the man to beat in this bracket.  He is 49-4 on the season with losses to out-of-state competition and 6A's Trevor Muncey of Gardendale.  He has beaten Spralling twice this season, 1-0 and 4-3, and that appears to the be the likely finals match-up (which if that happens will be a good one.  If Franklin can beat Spralling on the bottom side, Spralling beat Franklin 14-7 in the finals of the Jeremy Ragsdale Tournament in late January, he (Franklin) lost a close 8-7 decision to Spencer earlier this season.  Keep an eye on Conner (both of them), Steadman, Shelton, and others ... the three top wrestlers appear destined to meet, but any of the group could pull the upset.

170 lbs.

  • Favorite: Ethan Pippin (JR) - Westminster Christian
  • Contenders:
    • Kyle Clapper (SR) - Weaver
    • Peyton Johnson (SR) - Holtville
    • Michael Weaver (SR) - Arab
    • Devionte Garrett (SR) - Saks
    • Maji Billingsley (JR) - Scottsboro
  • Best 1st Round Match: Pitts vs. Sulzby
  • Darkhorse: Christian Seale (FR) - Cleburne County
  • Bracket Breaker: Hayden Pitts (SR) - Ohatchee
  • Finals: Pippin vs. Clapper
  • What to Watch: Clapper won the South Section with a pair of falls, a 10-5 decision over Chatman of Leeds and an 8-3 decision over top seed Peyton Johnson of Holtville.  Pippin dominated the 170 lb. bracket in the North Sectional ... posting 2 1st period falls (one over Spencer in the finals, a 7-1 decision and a 15-0 technical fall of Jacob Sulzby.  Weaver also wrestled extremely well before running into Pippin i nthe finals.  A Weaver vs. Clapper semifinal would be exciting.  Diebel is not a typical #7 after dropping two very close matches in the south sectional bracket ... so Weaver should be ready to go right off the bat.  The same can be said for out bracket buster in Hayden Pitts of Ohatchee.  Pitts lost to Johnson 7-5 in the south section semifinal (the two could meet in the quarters) and then dropped a tough 9-8 decision to Garrett to finish 5th.  The top seeds should be on the lookout.

182 lbs.

  • Favorite: Christian Knop (SO) - Alexandria
  • Contenders:
    • Davion Watkins (JR) - Lee Huntsville
    • Monquavious Ricks (JR) - Deshler
    • Samuel Pate (SR) - Cleburne County
    • Brady Price (SR) - Moody
    • Jacob Humphries (SR) - Oak Grove
  • Best 1st Round Match: Smith vs. Dozier
  • Darkhorse: Dalton Satterfield (SR) - Arab
  • Bracket Breaker: Julian Calderon (JR) - Susan Moore
  • Finals: Knop vs. Watkins
  • What to Watch: Defending State Champion Christian Knop is a significant favorite at 182.  He is a perfect 54-0 and has yet to be challenged this season.  He has not faced Watkins this season, but has a pair of wins by fall over Monquavious Ricks (his likely semifinal opponent).  The top side is a little more uncertain.  Watkins had 2 falls and 19-3 technical fall and a tough 5-3 decision over Ricks to claim the North Section title.  He has not faced Pate, Satterfield, Price this season ... so there is a bit of uncertainty.  Calderon, our bracket buster, has beaten Price this season, but lost by fall to Watkins.  

195 lbs.

  • Favorite: Andy Baker (SO) - Tallassee
  • Contenders:
    • Ian Scott (SR) - Arab
    • Curtis Taylor (SR) - AL School for Blind
    • Stephen White (SO) - Madison County
    • Slater Fuller (SR) - Deshler
    • Cade Smith (SO) - Cleburne County
  • Best 1st Round Match: Suarez vs. Cervantes
  • Darkhorse: Evan Cooper (SO) - Piedmont
  • Bracket Breaker: Tryston Gentry (SR) - Beauregard
  • Finals: Baker vs. Scott
  • What to Watch: Very good weight class with no clear cut favorite.  Baker and Scott each won their sections and headline the "favorite" list, but Stephen White, Curtis Taylor and others are nipping at their heels.  Scott had 3 falls and a 4-2 decision over White en route to the North Section title and Baker pinned Curtis Taylor to claim the South Section title.  Don't sleep on Fuller, Suarez, White, Gentry, Cooper, Smith, etc. as they make a run for the top step.  

220 lbs.

  • Favorite: Sean Caleb Allison (SO) - Weaver
  • Contenders:
    • Jack Tindall (JR) - Arab
    • Caleb Montgomery (SR) - Ohatchee
    • Skyler Mizzell (SO) - St Clair County
    • Clayton Crump (SR) - Oak Grove
    • Caleb Anderson (SO) - Scottsboro
  • Best 1st Round Match: Clement vs. Day
  • Darkhorse: Zachery Chandler (SR) - Walter Wellborb
  • Bracket Breaker: Kenneth Abernathy (JR) - Dadeville
  • Finals: Montgomery vs. Allison
  • What to Watch: Allison won a very tough South Section and put himself in a great position to make a run at the finals.  Allison had 2 falls, a 14-3 decision over Chandler and then a tough 4-3 decision over Montgomery to grab the title.  The left Montgomery and Mizzell on the top side of the bracket with Jack Tindall of Arab.  If Mizzell can down Thompson in round 1, he has beaten Tindal this season (in the finals of the Jeremy Ragsdale Tournament in late January.  Both Mizzell and Tindall will find a match with Montgomery to be very challenging.  That isn't to say that Allison will cruise to the finals on the bottom side, but Crump, Chandler, etc. do not pose as much of a threat as Tindall, Montgomery and Mizzell.  

285 lbs.

  • Favorite: Jake Baker (SR) - Tallassee
  • Contenders:
    • Matt Jenkins (SR) - Dora
    • Hunter Alexander (SR) - Arab
    • Jordan Brooks (JR) - Saks
    • Javien Woods (SR) - Piedmont
    • Michael Guionnaud (SR) - Elmore County
  • Best 1st Round Match: Smith vs. Galvan
  • Darkhorse: Kendall Farr (SR) - Westminster Christian
  • Bracket Breaker: Aaron Sheffield (JR) - Wilson
  • Finals: Baker vs. Jenkins
  • What to Watch: Baker is the defending 285 lb. State Champion and has yet to lose to anyone in the state (his only loss came to Marin of Wakulla Florida).  He had 4 falls en route to the South Section title and enters this weekend as the favorite.  Alexander, the North Section Runner-up, has yet to face Baker, Woods, or Smith this season ... so who knows how it will all play out on the top side.  Personally, I'd be interested in a Smith vs. Alexander quarterfinal.  That looks like the one to watch on the top side.  The bottom side has the North Section Champion, Matt Jenkins, and the South Section Runner-up, Jordan Brooks.  Add in a not so dark darkhorse in Kendall Farr and you have a very exciting bracket.  Farr lost to Alexander in the semifinals of the North Sectional and then forfeited to 4th ... putting him on the same side of the bracket as Jenkins (and away from a possible quarterfinal match with Baker).  Farr has been ranked in the top 3 all season and he should not be a surprise to Harrell, Brooks, Jenkins or anyone else he could meet on the bottom side.  Jenkins is the favorite, but the path is not easy.