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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's Sandlin Pike, top, had a pair of first-period pins to advance to the 106-pound semifinals at the AHSAA Class 6A Wrestling Championships on Thursday.

Benjamin Russell took 11 to the AHSAA Class 6A Wrestling Championships, which began Thursday in Huntsville, and all 11 Wildcats are still alive after the first day.

Five of those 11 each picked a pair of wins on Day 1, which means they have advanced to the semifinals and are just two wins away from a state championship.

Hezekiah Hunter (170 pounds), Saxon Coker (152), Bobby Charsha (132), Nyshaad Hannon (126) and Sandlin Pike (106) all went 2-0 on Thursday, and the Wildcats currently sit at No. 2 in the 6A team standings.

Hunter had a dominating day, picking up pins in both his bouts, and neither went into the second period. He flattened Oxford’s Tristen Latham in 1:07 then needed three fewer seconds to finish off Athens’ Logan Farmer in the quarterfinals.

Like Hunter, Pike also had back-to-back first-period pins to open the state championships. He finished off Pell City’s Jae Wiley in 1:12 before flattening Athens’ Will Anderson in 1:30.

Hannon, who was the Wildcats’ only sectional champion last weekend, also had a pair of pins but he needed a little longer in his quarterfinal victory. After taking down Pell City’s Mason Shell in 1:37, he finally turned Homewood’s Joe Galvan for a pin in 5:18.

Coker got a first-period pin in his opening match as he took down Pell City’s Tilman Patterson in just 1:12. He then shut out Clay Chalkville’s Jordyn Johnson, picking up a 5-0 decision.

Both Charsha’s victories came down to the wire. He pinned Shades Valley’s Tyberius Grimmett in the final second of the third period to get his first victory then he held off Buckhorn’s Gabe Sweat, 10-7, in the quarterfinals.

Although several Wildcats lost in their first rounds, they all came back to remain alive. Lee Leonard (113 pounds), Kyle Mattox (120), Jamarion Whetstone (138), Devion Freeman (145) and Savon Spradley (182) all remain alive in the consolation bracket.

At 285, Pokey Norris picked up Benjamin Russell’s fastest pin of the day by putting Hartselle’s Ryan Garrison on his back in just 44 seconds. But Norris then had to injury default in the quarterfinals, which dropped him to the consolations.

Reeltown also sent two to the 1A-5A championships but only Labrian Ponds is still in the competition. At 195 pounds, Ponds was defeated in his opening bout but rebounded well to flatten St. Clair County’s Logan Hall in 4:20 to remain alive.

The competition continues today at the Von Braun Center with final matches slated for Saturday.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.