Both teams come in after a strong run through the bracket. Moody beat Elmore County 50-30, Tallassee 35-27, and Cleburne County 42-30. Arab easily dismantled Deshler 69-9, Mae Jemison 49-24, and Hayden 56-12. Arab has held the top spot in the traditional rankings all season and are certainly the favorites heading into the finals. Moody comes in as the underdogs, but they probably relish that role. They have faced some of the best competition in Alabama (regardless of classification) and they will be ready to take the fight to the Knights on Friday evening. Here are a few probable weight classes to watch (I say probable because you never know how coaches will move wrestlers around for different match-ups) ...
106 Joseph Martin (A) vs. Cory Land (M)
- Martin is ranked #1 and has been for much of the season. Land is a small, but fierce 106 and will come after Martin. Martin won by major in their only meeting on the season. A Martin decision with no bonus points is a win for Moody ... can't give up bonus points here and don't be surprised if Land pushes Martin for the win.
113 Dakota Collins (A) vs. Stephen Williams (M)
- Williams recently dropped to 113 and should be favored here. He will likely be ranked #2 when our next rankings are released with Collins a little further down on the list. A win is a must for Moody ... bonus points might also be necessary, a fall would be huge.
120 Garrett McClendon (A) vs. Will Patterson (M)
- McClendon beat Patterson 7-4 in their only meeting this season. This looks like a toss-up ... with Moody needing to win as many of these matches as possible.
126 Peyton Weber (A) vs. D'Shawn Skinner (M)
- Two very close wrestlers (in terms of rankings) and they have not met yet this year ... another toss-up weight class.
132 Seth Hyatt (A) vs. Michael Land (M)
- #1 vs. #2 in our last ranking. Land beat Hyatt 14-8 in December. Bonus points would be huge here for either squad. Land has the edge, but this one should be close.
138 Clay Jones (A) vs. Rashad Clark (M)
- Jones was ranked #3 in our early January Rankings. Clark has moved down from 145 (where he was honorable mention in the last ranking). Edge to Arab, but one that could end up being a toss-up.
145 Anthony Camp (A) vs. Dustin Davis (M)
- A very important match and one that edges toward Arab, but again Davis made the move down when Clark moved to 138. Camp won by fall in their earlier meeting ... Moody cannot afford to give up 6 here.
Arab holds the edge from 152-285 ... illustrating how critical the lower 7 weight classes are. Daniel Vazquez, Brady Price, and others will be competitive, but Moody is not nearly as strong in their upperweights (as compared to Arab). The Knights feature returning 6A State Champ Will Spencer (now at 160) and State Placer Ian Scott (competing at 195). Add in Hunter Alexander, Jack Tindall, and others and the Knights are a force up top.
Oak Mountain vs Smiths Station Recap
OM and SS split the first 4 matches (with OM winning at 106 and 113 and SS taking 120 and 126) before Oak Mountain reeled off 7 consecutive wins between 126 and 182 to seal the win for the Eagles. Falls by Blake Randle, Barrett Blakely, and Mingyu Lee pushed the lead to 46-12 before Smiths Station could get back in the win column.
Thompson vs. Auburn Recap
Not surprising, the Warrios used their hammers down low to push the match out of reach early. Thompson built a 40-0 advantage before Auburn notched their first win with Robert Friedenreich's 1-0 decision over Clavin Pickens at 152. Auburn would get 3 wins in total and Thompson cruised to the semifinals.
Vestavia Hills vs. Bob Jones Recap
Vestavia and Bob Jones split the first four matches (with VH holding a 9-7 lead going into the 126 lb. weight class), before the Rebels were able to break open the dual. Vestavia had 5 wins from 126-160, with Bowman Hill getting a forfeit and Spencer Haddock and Peter Dazzio getting pins to push the Rebel lead to 35-7. Bob Jones would get wins at 170 and 195, but Vestavia cruised to the win.
Grissom vs. Hewitt Trussville Recap
Harrison Shelton's win by fall at 152 sealed the win for the Huskies. Grissom jumped out to 28-9 lead after the first 7 matches, but couldn't hold on when the Huskies turned to the strength of their lineup (120-152). HT got a forfeit from Stone Barden at 126, and falls from Heath Williamson and Shelton to push the Huskies to the semifinals.
As anticipated, we have a couple of region rematches in the state semifinals this Tuesday. Thompson downed Oak Mountain 38-24 to take the region title a few weeks ago and Vestavia beat Hewitt-Trussville to claim their region title. Both duals should be fun to watch. Bonus points and match-ups will be important. Here are 3 match-ups (or weight classes) that will be pivotal ...
Thompson vs. Oak Mountain
120 Emmanuel Oliver (T) vs. Christian Lester (OM)
- Andrew Mohon wrestled for OM vs. Smiths Station, but it was the younger Lester that lost 5-0 to Oliver in their earlier dual. A win at 120 is extremely important if the Eagles are going to take the dual.
138 Jacob Megois (T) vs. Carson Lester (OM)
- Two of the top 138's in 7A should square off at 138. Megois won the only meeting between the two (6-2) back in early January. Again, if Oak Mountain is going to advance, it will likely come with a Lester win.
170 William Ward (T) vs. Justin Evans (OM)
- Evans downed Ward 10-5 in their only meeting. A win by Ward would almost certainly be a death knell for Oak Mountain.
Vestavia vs. Hewitt-Trussville
120 Alex Thomas (V) vs. Stone Barden (HT)
- Thomas took the only meeting 1-0. These are the two top 120's in state (much less 7A). It wouldn't surprise me to see either team work around to be certain their wrestler can get them points (or bonus points) ... but if the match comes down to these two - lookout.
126 Nathaniel Nailen (V) vs. Braden Treglown (HT)
- Nailes beat Treglown in sudden victory a couple of weeks ago (he also beat him very early in the year). This is another weight class that could go either way and might be a key match-up in the overall dual.
170 Zachary Nelson (V) vs. Braedon Keith (HT)
- Keith is now 2-0 against Nelson, but both matches have been close. A victory by Nelson would be a big blow to the Huskies chances.
145 Jack Stoves (V) vs. Conner Smith (HT)
- The two have battled back and forth all season with Smith getting the best of Stoves lately (in fact Smith is now 3-1 against Stoves). This is another weight class that Hewitt needs to have ... they forfeited several weight classes up top vs. Grissom and can't afford to lose these toss up matches.
Top Quarter Recap:
Gulf Shores and Oxford both won their opening matches fairly easy. The Oxford vs. Gulf Shores match was a battle back and forth with Oxford eventually emerging with the win. Gulf Shores led Oxford 21-15 heading into 160 lbs. Oxford bumped Matt King to 170 and got a 13-4 major by Andrew Boyles to set the stage for Oxford to make a comeback. Wins by Johon Peavey and Joshua Thomas sealed the win (Peavey bumped to 182 and beat Bryce Fuhrmann 3-2).
2nd Quarter Recap:
Wetumpka and McAdory each easily took care of business in round 1 with McAdory downing Stanhope Elmore 63-9 and Wetumpka beating Hueytown 68-12. The McAdory vs. Wetumpka match was as expected. Wetumpka got behind early and had to rely on the hammers up top to seal the win. Falls by Trent Barrett (182) and John Ellis Rawls (220) were huge in pushing the Indians to the semifinals opposite Oxford.
3rd Quarter Recap:
Pinson Valley and Homewood each took care of business in round 1. Homewood downed Gardendale 48-24 and PV bested Helena 55-9. PV relied on their hammers to push them through to the semifinals. PV got bonus points from George Vazquez (106), Cameron Hamby (132), Josh Walker (138), Tracy Reed (160), Khymel Chaverst (170), and Taylor Rhodes (285). Those falls provided too much for the Patriots to overcome. PV is probably the top team in 6A, but they will need to bring their "A" game Tuesday night if they are going to hold off Southside, Gadsden.
Bottom Quarter Recap:
Southside, Gadsden looked like a team on a mission in the first two rounds. Easily beating Austin 55-15 and Clay Chalkville 53-12. The best 1st round match was between Clay Chalkville and Athens, as CC was able to get the win 48-31. Southside forfeited 182 to CC, but weren't in any trouble given the hammers in their lineup.
Tuesday night should feature two very good matches in Oxford vs. Wetumpka and Southside, Gadsden vs. Pinson Valley. Here is what to look for:
Oxford vs. Wetumpka
On paper, Oxford vs. Wetumpka looks like a slam dunk for the boys from Oxford. Oxford easily outpointed Wetumpka in their dual on January 16. Oxford built an a huge lead in the lower weights and Wetumpka wasn't able to overcome the deficit (losing 57-12). Wetumpka will be hard-pressed to pull off the win, but there should be several very good match-ups to watch ...
126 Wesley Slick (O) vs. Cole Blackwell (W)
- Slick and Blackwell are two of the top 126's in 6A and their match was outstanding on the 16th - with Slick pulling off a 4-3 win. If WEtumpka is going to knock off Oxford, Blackwell must come through.
145 Gryce McDaniel (O) vs. Mason Blackwell (W)
- Another good match that came down to the final seconds ... this time Blackwell was able to get the win (6-5) over McDaniel. Wetumpka must get a win here before Oxford makes a run from 152-170.
285 Clay Webb (O) vs. Trent Holley (W)
- #1 vs. #2 in our early January rankings ... with #2 getting the win. Holley beat Webb 5-3. Expect this to be an outstanding match (and perhaps a preview of the state finals).
Southside, Gadsden vs. Pinson Valley
#1 vs. #2 in our traditional rankings all season ... remember traditional is very different from duals and that matters a great deal in this case. Southside beat Pinson Valley 40-35 about 10 days ago ... can they do it again on Tuesday? Match-ups and bonus points are key. Here are 3 weight classes we are watching.
120 Jacob Smith or Jacob Dease (S) vs. Brandon Hill or Quenmarius Byrd (PV)
- Southside got what they wanted in the earlier dual ... there was no Brandon Hill, so Southside got the forfeit with Dease and bumped Smith up to go against Byrd. If PV can get both Byrd and Hill to 120, they would have the flexibility to turn that around. Have Byrd avoid Smith and get a shot against Dease. That could be huge. In case you are wondering, Byrd wrestled 120 back in December - so that could certainly be an option.
132 Colin Edwards (S) vs. Cameron Hamby (PV)
- Hamby beat Edwards 14-4 in the previous dual, but a fall would go a long way for Pinson Valley. If Edwards can get the win or keep it to just 3 points (and no bonus points) ... Southside could be cruising.
145 Justuce Venn (S) vs. Eric Rogers (PV)
- Rogers was ranked ahead of Venn in our last rankings in early January. Venn's fall over Rogers in their dual was probably the decisive win Southside needed to seal the dual. Don't be surprised if it comes down to these two again ... for a trip to the finals on the line.
Top Quarter Recap:
Moody and Tallassee each took care of business in round 1 and then fans were treated to a great dual between two of the top teams in 1A-5A. Moody emerged victorious when Stephen Williams got the fall over Zack Haynes in the last match of the evening. Both teams are extremely good, and Moody was able to get the win. Bonus points by Patterson, Skinner, Vazquez, Tice, and Williams proved the difference.
2nd Quarter Recap:
I noted in an earlier version that Cleburne County vs. Alexandria was perhaps the best match of the 1st round with the winner likely getting Weaver. Well Cleburne County showed that they are a force to be reckoned with ... downing Alexandria 48-24 and then beating a good Weaver squad 36-25 (in match where Nick Souder bumped all the way up to 138 to down Williamson). Cleburne County was solid from 160-195 and got some very important wins at 182 (Samuel Pate downed Kyle Clapper 7-6) and 195 (Cade Smith beat Caleb Russell 6-4).
3rd Quarter Recap:
Hayden and Dora each handled their 1st round matches with relative ease and then Hayden proceeded to handle Dora 43-29. Hayden won 8 matches, Dora 6, but it was bonus points that helped Hayden cruise to the win. Hayden had 5 falls and 1 forfeit to go along with a major decision by Zach Cochran at 145 and a decision win by Jacob Sulzby at 182.
Bottom Quarter Recap:
Perhaps the best quarter in any classification. Arab dominated this part of the bracket, but not because they lacked competition. Both Deshler and Mae Jemison are talented squads, but neither could match the Knights. Deshler fell 69-9 and Arab outpointed Jemison 49-24.
Tuesday night should feature two very good matches in Moody vs. Cleburne County and Arab vs. Hayden. Here is what to look for:
Moody vs. Cleburne County
Moody easily handled Cleburne County just 8 days ago at the Matt Tice Duals (50-27). Could we be in store for a similar outcome? Here are a few weight classes or match-ups I'd be watching ...
113: Stephen Williams (M) vs. Dylan Turner (CC)
- Williams was key in Moody advancing last week ... he could play a similar role on Tuesday night. He beat Turner 4-2 in overtime and it should be expected that it will likely be that close again. Cleburne County needs a Turner win here. A loss could spell trouble.
152: Daniel Vazquez (M) vs. Christopher Higgins (CC)
- Higgins won 7-6 in their meeting on the 14th. Cleburne County needs a win here if they are going to stay hunting.
195: Zachary Nold (M) vs. Cade Smith (CC)
- Smith was DQ'd in their last meeting ... and Cleburne cannot afford to give up 6 here. If they can get wins at 113, 152, and turn 6 points their way here ... we might see a different outcome (that would have made it 41-36 for Moody in the last dual). Cleburne County will need another win, but these 3 weight classes are critical.
Hayden vs. Arab
Arab and Hayden haven't dualed one another since November ... regardless, Arab is easily the team to beat. The Knights took that early meeting 66-12 and have only gotten better since the beginning of the year. Arab is probably the best team in 1A-5A and 6A ... and could give most 7A teams a run for their money ... Hayden must be lights out if they are going to pull the upset. Here are a few matches to watch:
120: Landon Castleberry (H) vs. Garrett McClendon (A)
- McClendon was ranked #2, Castleberry #6 in our early January rankings. McClendon pinned Castleberry early this season ... if Hayden is going to stand a chance ... Castleberry must change that outcome.
138: Chace Phillips (H) vs. Clay Jones (A)
- Phillips was ranked #2, Jones #3 in our early January rankings. They did not meet in the earlier dual, but did at the Arab Invitational (with Phillips taking the win). If Phillips and Hallmark (at 132) can get wins ... Hayden could be in the game (NOTE: Hallmark lost by fall to Hyatt at 132 at the Arab Invitational).
106, 220, and 285 ...
- Hayden forfeited each of those weight in their earlier dual. They did not forfeit them in their dual vs. Dora ... they lost 220 and 285, but won at 106. It will be critical for Hayden to not give up 6 points in each of those weight classes this time around.
Round 1 - Friday January 20th
- Smiths Station vs. Oak Mountain
- Thompson vs. Auburn
- Vestavia Hills vs. Bob Jones
- Grissom vs. Hewitt-Trussville
- Summary: The most intriguing 1st round match is between a very tough Hewitt-Trussville team and Region 4 winner Grissom. Hewitt lost to Vestavia 37-25 on January 10th in the deciding the dual in Region 3. The Huskies are very tough from 120-145 and 170-195. Not to say their other weight classes are "weak", it just means they have some real hammers in those 8 weight classes. Grissom will need Hughes at 106, Ivey at 113, and Jacob Daugherty at 160 to come through with bonus points and have Handy beat Smith at 145, Hoyt beat Treglown at 126, and Nicholas Biggs beat Grant Howard or Braedon Keith at 182. The ability to move around to get good match-ups and score bonus points when available could be the difference. On paper, Thompson and Vestavia look like the better teams in their first round match-ups and it would be a surprise if either lost. That isn't an indictment of Bob Jones and Auburn, but neither has the depth to push two teams that have few holes. Oak Mountain vs. Smiths Station is interesting. Again, on paper, Oak Mountain looks like the better dual team. They have several hammers in their line-up and much will depend on match-ups and the ability of the Smiths Station squad to get bonus points (and avoid giving up any). Don't be surprised if it is a couple of re-matches on Tuesday January 24th with a spot in the state finals on the line.
Opening Weekend (January 20 & 21)
- Gulf Shores vs. Pell City
- Oxford vs. Baldwin County
- Summary: Oxford looks like the best bet to escape the top quarter. They have hammers in Matt King (160), Johon Peavey (170), and Clay Webb (285). Add in Chase Hicks (106), Landon Burrage (113), and Wesley Slick (126) and they are going to be tough to beat. Pell City beat Baldwin County in December, but line-ups change and the two teams could look very different this weekend. Gulf Shores beat Baldwin County by a similar score to what Pell City did, but much will depend on match-ups. The Gulf Shores vs. Pell City dual looks to be a good one.
- Wetumpka vs. Hueytown
- McAdory vs. Stanhope Elmore
- Summary: McAdory and Wetumpka enter as their Region Champs and should be favored in each of their opening matches. McAdory handled Hueytown 75-6 in their region dual and has a solid line-up from top to bottom. RJ Lawhorn (120), Keagan Daniels (126), Devin Hackworth (160), and David Hunter (195) lead the way for the yellowjackets. Wetumpka beat Stanhope Elmore 61-18 in their region dual and should be the favorite over Hueytown. A Wetumpka vs. McAdory match should be a good one, if it materializes. Blackwell vs. Daniels at 126 could be an important match.
- Homewood vs. Gardendale
- Pinson Valley vs. Helena
- Summary: Pinson Valley enters as our top team in 6A in the "traditional" team rankings, but make no mistake ... they are equally as talented as a dual team. Their greatest strength is that they few holes in their lineup (they will likely forfeit 113 and 120 (unless Taylor or Byrd can make it down to 120). But the strength of the lineup begins at 132 and continues throughout ... they have a number of ranked wrestlers in our latest rankings and that should serve them well in their opening match against Helena. Homewood vs. Gardendale could be one of the best opening round matches. Homewood is finely rounding into form with most of their wrestlers back in the lineup and Gardendale has had wrestlers in and out of the lineup throughout the season. A Homewood vs. Pinson Valley could be a good one, but PV should be favored.
- Southside, Gadsden vs. Austin
- Athens vs. Clay Chalkville
- Summary: Southside, Gadsden enters as the top team in the bottom quarter. The Panthers several hammers in the lineup (see: Andrew Smith at 106, Jacob Smith at 120, Sam Colvin at 138, Landon Thompson at 152 to name just four) ... whether they are able to advance out of the opening weekend will come down to how well the others in the lineup perform. They should handle Austin with relative ease and then will face either Athens or Clay-Chalkville. Southside beat Clay Chalkville 43-25 in early January to win the Region ... but an Athens vs. Clay-Chalkville match should be close. The winner of that match will likely have an uphill climb against a stout Southside-Gadsden squad.
After the opening weekend, four teams will remain and face-off Tuesday evening January 24th. Who will it be?
Opening Weekend (January 20 & 21)
- Tallassee vs. Holtville
- Moody vs. Elmore County
- Summary: Very good quarterfinal grouping. Tallassee has the most complete team top to bottom, but Region 2 Champion Moody can match-up with any team in 1A-5A. Holtville and Elmore County will have an uphill climb against these two. Moody's wins over Weaver and Cleburne County this past weekend shows they have the horses to challenge Tallassee ... in a match that will likely come down to how the teams match-up. Assuming we see Tallassee vs. Moody ... we will likely see Moody dominate in the lower weights, Tallassee in the upper weights with bonus points and match-ups deciding the difference. Holtville has several solid wrestlers, but with a few holes in their line-up ... they will find pulling the upset a challenge.
- Cleburne County vs. Alexandria
- Weaver vs. Ranburne
- Summary: Cleburne County vs. Alexandria is probably the best 1st round match-up in any classification. Dylan Turner (113), Zachary Williamson (138), Tyler Mayfield (152), and Cade Smith (195) lead the way for the Tigers. Alexandria have several hammers throughout their line-up, but could forfeit as many as 2 or 3 weight classes (those 12-18 points could be significant). Matthews vs. Turner at 113 could be a very important match. Weaver should take care of Ranburne and then have a slight edge over the Cleburne County/Alexandria winner in the quarterfinals. Note: Cleburne County did beat Weaver in December 45-33, but recall both teams forfeited weight classes (and Cleburne County bumped Mayfield, Smith and others up). If the two teams meet ... it could come down to the final match.
- Hayden vs. Oak Grove
- Dora vs. Mortimer Jordan
- Summary: Interesting quartet here in the 3rd quarter of the bracket. Hayden has wrestled both Oak Grove and Dora (both early in the season from what I can tell). Hayden beat Oak Grove 66-15 (but it was November and that should be considered). Dora beat Hayden 45-35 (but again very early in the season). A Hayden vs. Dora match-up should be a good one, if we get an opportunity to see it. Mortimer Jordan had 3 forfeits in their loss to Hayden and if they give up 18 points to Dora, their chance of winning is extremely small. The most likely scenario is a Hayden vs. Dora match-up ... could be one of the best duals of the quarters if it happens.
- Arab vs. Deshler
- Mae Jemison vs. Madison County
- Summary: Arab is hands down the team to beat in the bottom quarter and the bracket as a whole. The Knights have beaten Dora (50-22), Hayden (66-12), Gardendale (61-12), Moody (61-12), McAdory (67-7), Madison County (72-12), and others. Their only losses have come to Northwest Whitfield (GA) and Science Hill (TN). Jemison beat Deshler 57-24 to win Region 8 and setup one of the best 1st round matches of the tournament in a Jemison vs. Madison County dual. Madison County has spent the year wrestling some of the best teams in the state, regardless of classification. Those experiences should bode well in their match-up with Jemison. The winner will likely get Arab, and their run for a title will likely end in the quarters.
After the opening weekend, four teams will remain and face-off Tuesday evening January 24th. Who will it be?