The injury bug has hit Benjamin Russell’s wrestling team and that’s forced the Wildcats to make some changes.
Instead of just forfeiting one weight class, they’re now putting up two forfeits each match and they’ve had to stick in a less seasoned wrestler into the 138 weight class after an injury to starter Devion Freeman during the Indians Invitational in Wetumpka. Those changes have hindered Benjamin Russell slightly but it still walked away with a second-place team finish at the AHSAA Class 6A Region 3 Duals on Friday.
Benjamin Russell picked up wins over Pell City, Opelika and Russell County but lost to the eventual champion, Oxford.
“With the people we have out and the weight classes we’re forfeiting, second isn’t a bad place to be in our region,” BRHS coach Michael Ransaw said. “We probably have the toughest region with Oxford and Pell City and us. You put us in any other region, we could probably win it.”
Oxford, which seemed to have Benjamin Russell’s number all season long last year as well, got the best of the Wildcats, 51-24. But BRHS gave up 12 points on forfeits and Damien Lawry, who’s been one of the strongest wrestlers for Benjamin Russell, had to bow out of the heavyweight match due to injury time.
Ransaw said the Yellow Jackets also did a nice job of moving wrestlers around to best match up with the Wildcats.
“Oxford moved some guys around to fit some of ours,” Ransaw said. “They diverted from some pins that we would’ve gotten and we wound up getting only three points from a few matches. But there are some matches out there that we should’ve won too.”
Saxon Coker, Nyshaad Hannon, Bobby Charsha and Hezekiah Hunter all earned spots on the all-tournament team. Coker’s only loss came against Oxford; he moved up a weight class to take on Oxford’s Reed Hill, who defeated Coker in the state championship last year.
Hannon and Hunter had at least three pins wrestling at 126 and 182, respectively, and Charsha was perfect on the day as Oxford made an interesting choice to give up a forfeit to him.
“Oxford didn’t put anybody against Bobby, so that was very surprising,” Ransaw said. “But I think our main guys are still wrestling well.”
Because Benjamin Russell placed second, that guarantees the Wildcats a spot in the dual championships’ second round, which will be held Thursday at Oxford. The Wildcats will take on McAdory, which won the team state championship a year ago. If they win, they’ll likely meet Oxford again as the Yellow Jackets meet Northview in the second round.