Tanner Woodall said it was several weeks, even months, into the season and classmates at North Jackson still did not know that the school was fielding its first wrestling team.
All of the NJHS students surely know it now.
Woodall captured the Class 1A-5A 195-pound weight class state championship while his twin brother Travis was the state runner-up at 220 during the AHSAA Wrestling Championships at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Saturday.
The Woodalls, both juniors who started their high school wrestling careers as freshman at Scottsboro, were out of the sport last year before pioneering North Jackson’s program this season. They were North Jackson’s only two wrestlers. Their performance pushed North Jackson to a 14th-place finish out of 51 teams in the state tournament’s team standings.
“To do what they did after not wrestling in two years is outstanding,” said North Jackson head coach Mark Rose. “They had great competition at practice everyday. They got after each other everyday. We had four live matches the Monday and Tuesday before the sectionals, and three of them went to overtime. They made each other better all year.”
Tanner Woodall (30-2) went 4-0 during the state tournament, pinning Tallasee’s Andy Baker (57-2) in 2:40 seconds in the 195 state finals. Not only is he North Jackson’s first state champion wrestler, he’s also the first in the history of the Jackson County Schools System.
“It feel good obviously to win [a state championship],” he said. “That’s something that no one can take away from you the rest of your life.”
Travis Woodall (30-5) lost a 3-1 decision in sudden victory overtime to Weaver’s Sean Caleb Allison (57-2). Rose said at one point during the overtime session, it was thought Woodall had the winning two-point takedown, but didn’t get the call. Allison then scored a two-point takedown for the win.
“That was tough for Travis,” Rose said. “It was a heck of a match — two guys about as even as could be. Travis had a great year and beat some really good competition.”