Despite being two weight classes short of a full lineup, Benjamin Russell took to Garrett Coliseum with plenty of confidence and let it show on the mats. The Wildcats had five wrestlers make it to individual finals and the team racked up 199.5 points to finish second in the Class 6A South Super Section on Saturday.
“This is something we are going to build off going into state week,” BRHS coach Michael Ransaw. “We know we give up too many points in those two weight classes but I just ask them to give me 100% and we will finish where we finish. That’s what they did.”
Nyshaad Hannon grabbed the only individual title for the Wildcats, claiming four wins at 126 pounds. Hannon finished the day with a 13-7 decision win against Helena’s Michael Moran in the first-place bout.
Sandlin Pike (106 pounds), Kyle Mattox (120), Hezekiah Hunter (170) and Pokey Norris (285) all made it to a championship bout but fell short. Ransaw said he believes those losses can help prepare the Wildcats for the state tournament.
“That’s just about running into tough wrestlers and they got us this time,” Ransaw said. “You would rather it be here than next week. The south is the toughest sectional. You haven’t heard the last of these guys.”
Those four losses were against wrestlers who combined for just eight defeats all season. Hunter handed out two of those losses to John Paul Uter, of Gulf Shores, but Uter got his revenge with a third-period pin against Hunter.
Despite the defeat, Hunter is confident he will make a run at the state title and he hopes to face Uter again. After winning the section last season, Hunter lost in the state tournament so he knows there is time to make up for it.
“I know now I have to push a little bit harder,” Hunter said. “I want to win a state championship. I want to see him again in the final. Last year, I beat the No. 1 seed at sectionals but got second at state so I just have to look at it that way.”
Lee Leonard grabbed three decision victories and a pin on his way to a third-place finish at 113 pounds.
Saxon Coker suffered a rare defeat in the semifinals at 152, falling to McAdory’s Aiden Knight in sudden victory. However, Coker bounced back with a pair of pins to claim third place and he still has high hopes of claiming the state title.
“He pushed the pace on me and I wasn’t prepared for that,” Coker said. “That’s on me. It’s not going to happen next week though. I’m going to work harder and take everything to another level this week.”
Devion Freeman returned from an injury to claim three wins on his way to a fourth-place finish at 145. Bobby Charsha took fourth at 132 while Jamarion Whetstone (138) and Savon Spradley (182) wrapped up the team’s state qualifiers.
“Eleven (state qualifiers) is really impressive for any school,” Ransaw said. “You look at the Wetumpkas and the McAdorys, they have a lot of kids to choose from and they have a lot of good wrestlers. The ones we have that come in and give us 100%, those work for us. We have 11 guys at state; that’s going to be big.”