The wait is nearly over for the Scottsboro wrestling team.
Eight Wildcat wrestlers will compete for state championships beginning Thursday and running through Saturday during the AHSAA Class 5A-6A State Wrestling Championships at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
It’s a much different looking state tournament than Scottsboro is used to.
The AHSAA modified wrestling’s postseason back because of COVID-19 restrictions. The AHSAA also split wrestling’s three divisions into their own state tournaments at separate sites. The Class 1A-4A and Class 7A state tournaments were held last weekend in Montgomery and Birmingham respectively.
The AHSAA canceled sectionals and a seeding process/draw was used to determine the field for each weight class bracket, which was expanded from a 16- to a 32-wrestler field.
Scottsboro head coach Chris Staton said the seeding process “wasn’t perfect” but that “we’re just grateful to be getting the opportunity. Yeah there were some kids we had I thought would get in but didn’t. But we’re getting to have a state tournament, and some kids in other (states) didn’t get to do that, didn’t even get to have a season.”
Scottsboro had eight wrestlers earn bids for state, including three state returners, juniors Mason McKenzie (10-2 record in 2020-21 season) in the 113-pound weight class, Clinton Stewart (20-1) at 126 and Kolby Clark (16-2) at 220. Meanwhile, seventh-grader John Stewart (22-1) at 106, freshman Thomas Rackler (19-6) at 132, freshman Ansel Goggans (20-3) at 138, freshman Aiden Goggans (17-6) at 152 and junior Lucas Bellamy (12-8) at 285.
Staton said Scottsboro doesn’t have the numbers to make a run at a team state title, and he hopes that makes his wrestlers wrestle more freely and aggressively.
“Just let it fly and try to advance,” Staton said. “They don’t have to worry about giving up a big move and getting pinned (and giving up team points). Just go try to put some matches together, wrestle free because the pressure is off. Some kids rise up (at state) and others the nerves will get to them. But there’s nothing to lose. We’re still young, but we’ve made a lot of improvement this year. I’m excited to see what they do.”