MONTGOMERY – Thompson High School wrestlers Sam Latona and Gabe Hixenbaugh reached the finals in their respective weight divisions at the Cheesehead Invitational Wrestling Championships at Kaukauna, Wisconsin, to lead the Warriors to an 11th-place finish in the nationally acclaimed tournament. The impressive showing by the two juniors thrust them into the AHSAA Wrestling Spotlight this week.
The Warriors of Sean Weltzin totaled 312 points in the 32-team field, which was comprised of teams primarily from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. Thompson was the only Southern team in the field.
Latona (35-2) went 6-1 to finish second in the 120-pound weight division. The junior finished 71-1 last season to win the AHSAA Class 7A 106-pound title. He lost to senior Joey Melendez (25-1) of meet champion Montini Catholic (IL) in the finals 5-0. Hixenbaugh (35-3), a junior who was 75-4 as a sophomore en route to the Class 7A 126-pound state crown, reached the 132-pound finals at the Cheesehead Invitational with six straight wins. Real Woods (21-1), also of Montini Catholic, won with a technical fall at 4:29 in the finals.
Thompson had five additional wrestlers finish in the Top 10 of their respective weight divisions. Dylan Leseuer (34-7) finished seventh at 106 pounds, Emmanuel Oliver (24-4) ninth at 113 pounds, Chandler Akins (20-9) 10th at 120 pounds, Isaac McAdams (27-14) 10th at 195 pounds and Seth Whitlock (12-9) eighth at 285 pounds.
Other top wrestling performances reported included:
Jefferson County Championships
MACON EDWARDS, FULTONDALE: Edwards (42-0), a senior who saw his 163-match win streak come to an end in the 113-pound Class 1A-5A finals in 2017, beat Luke Jasper of Mortimer Jordan with a pin at 3:44 in the 122-pound finals of the Jefferson County Tournament held at Oak Grove. Clay-Chalkville won the Jeffco title with 206 points over Mortimer Jordan (197.5. Gardendale was third with 193. Fultondale, the smallest school in the 12-team field, was sixth with 152 points.
CARIAL TARTER, MORTIMER JORDAN: Tarter (32-0), who finished unbeaten last season as a junior at 47-0 to win the Class 1A-5A 145-pound state crown, extended his current winning streak to 79 with a technical fall 15-0 decision over Christian Hopkins of Pinson Valley in the 162-pound Jeffco finals. Tarter was 47-0 as a junior winning the 1A-5A state title at 152 pounds.
Calhoun County Championships
CLAY WEBB, OXFORD: Won the 285-pound title with a pin at 4:19 over Pleasant Valley’s Wesley Harrell to help the defending Class 6A state champs win the tournament championship. Host Oxford totaled 243.5 points and runner-up Alexandria had 173.5. Weaver was third with 113 points.
CODY SOUDER, WEAVER: The freshman improved to 25-0 with a pin in just 34 seconds to win the 108-pound title.
FLETCHER SWINDALL, ALEXANDRIA: Improved to 20-0 with a 9-7 decision over Wesley Slick of Oxford (27-5) in the 134-pound Calhoun County tourney finals.
CHRISTIAN KNOP, ALEXANDRIA: Knop (23-0), The Class 1A/5A defending state champion, won the 184-pound title at the Calhoun County tourney with a pin in finals in just 51 seconds. The junior was 58-0 last season and was 56-0 in 2016 at 170 pounds. His current winning streak is 137 and counting.
Barry Mask Invitational, Wetumpka
STEVEN BELL, McADORY: Improved to 36-0 with a 10-4 decision over Jackson Howard (17-2) of Saint James in the 128-pound finals held at Wetumpka. Southside-Gadsden won the tourney title with 342.5 points, followed by runner-up Benjamin Russell (328.5) and third-place Wetumpka (307).
JUSTIN INGRAM, SPANISH FORT: Ingram (38-0) downed Michael Jackson (20-6) of Thompson with a pin at 3:30 in the 147-pound division.
BRADY RICHARDSON, HOLTVILLE: Captured the 152-pound title going 4-0. Richardson (21-0) pinned three opponents, won another with a major decision and then handed Lee-Montgomery grappler Princeton Perryman (13-2) his second loss of the season with a 7-3 decision in the finals.
MASON BLACKWELL, WETUMPKA: Went 4-0, including a 6-5 decision over Jack Burt (12-2) of Montgomery Catholic, to claim the 160-pound weight division championship last weekend. The freshman improved 20-0 on the season after finishing fourth in the Class 6A State Meet as an eighth grader.
LADONTAY GARRISON, SIDNEY LANIER: The senior (7-0) pinned Connor Burk (24-10) in the 184-pound finals at 1:47.
LEFREDRICK WALKER, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Walker (22-0), a senior, downed Benjamin Russell’s Damien Lawry 4-2 in the 222-pound finals.
Hoover/Scott Rohrer Invitational
MAX KAUFFMAN, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Kauffman (34-0) beat Matthew Blalock of Pensacola-Tate with a technical fall (19-4) in the 134-pound finals to help Central finish second overall in the field of 32 teams. Vestavia Hills won the annual meet at Hoover High School with 854.5 points. The Red Devils had 813.5 and the host Bucs had 757.5 to finish third. Bob Jones was fourth with 712.5.
HECTOR CANDELARIA, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Remained unbeaten at 25-0 with a 3-1 decision over Hewitt-Trussville’s Stone Barden (11-2) in the 140-pound finals.
KRISTIAN SCOTT, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: The Red Devils senior improved to 34-0 on the season with s pin at 1:39 in the finals over Vestavia Hills junior Peter Dazzio (31-5).
BARRETT BLAKELY, OAK MOUNTAIN: The Eagles senior downed Scottsboro’s Kolton Clark (29-2) 8-3 in the 172-pound finals to remain undefeated at 35-0.
NATHAN DUNAWAY, HELENA: Dunaway (39-0), a sophomore, pinned previously unbeaten Hoover senior D’Angelo Dewitt (36-1) in the 184-pound finals at 1:31. He had seven consecutive wins, including five by pins, in the tournament.
Rumble in the Jungle Invitational, Heflin
MASON SHELL, PELL CITY: The sophomore downed Alexandria’s Aden Whittaker (15-9) in the 113-pound finals to remain undefeated at 28-0. Host Cleburne County won the tourney with 328.5 points. Pell City was second with 278.5, Alexandria (244.5) was third and Oxford (28.5) was fourth in the 13-team field.
FLETCHER SWINDALL, ALEXANDRIA: Won five matches to improve to 25-0 and won the 132-pound title over Jackson Hurst of Oxford with a 14-4 major decision.
JASON HIGGINS, CLEBURNE COUNTY: Higgins (12-0), a senior, pinned Matthew Lindsey (18-6) of Walter Wellborn at 1:58 to win the 160-pound weight division.
CHRISTIAN KNOP, ALEXANDIA: Knop (27-0) won four matches at 182 pounds to improve his current winning streak to 141 in a row. He handed Cleburne County junior Cade Smith (16-1) his first loss of the season in the finals winning 15-0 with a technical fall at 2:25.
JORDAN BROOKS, SAKS: The senior, now 9-0, won the 285-pound division with a pin over Matthew Thornton (14-3) of Piedmont in the finals at 1:00.
Julian McPhillips Invitational, Montgomery
JACK TINDALL, ARAB: The senior (34-3) handed Lee-Montgomery senior LeFredrick Walker (30-1) his first defeat of the season in the semifinals, and he followed by handing Tallassee junior Andy Baker (29-1) his first loss of the season in the 222-pound finals. Arab scored 238 points to win the McPhillips Invitational hosted by Saint James. Smiths Station was second in the 22-team field with 181 points followed by Wetumpka (263.5) and host Saint James (152.0).
JACKSON ELDER, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: The ACA junior (4-0), who finished fourth in the AHSAA 1A-5A State Championships last year, beat Arab’s Jacob Holland (44-3) in the 108-pound finals by a 5-1 decision.
CLAY JONES, ARAB: Won the 147-pound championship with a pin at 3:18 in the finals over Trey Gaines (24-8) of Saint James. Jones (47-0) finished third in the state meet last season at 138 pounds.
MASON BLACKWELL, WETUMPKA: Won three matches to win the 162-pound division and raised his season record to 23-0. He beat Mason Grissett of Prattville Christian with a pin at 1:56 in the finals.
LADONTAY GARRISON, SIDNEY LANIER: Garrison (11-0, a Poets senior, won four matches en route to the 184-pound title. He pinned senior Justin Lewis of Carver-Montgomery (12-4) at 3:53 in the finals.