Clinton Stewart

Senior Clinton Stewart, who wrestles in the 126-pound weight class, is one of three state placers and eight state qualifiers returning to the Scottsboro wrestling team's roster this season.

The Scottsboro wrestling program suffered a down season by its standards last season, as the program did not have a state champion or state finalist in any weight class last season and was also not a factor in the team standings at state.

There were several factors that contributed that — Scottsboro featured and  extremely young and inexperienced lineup while having to compete in what is considered the toughest of the AHSAA’s wrestling classifications, Class 5A-6A — but head coach Chris Staton said Wildcats are all about changing that rather than searching for reasons to why it happened.

“I think this group has a chance to put us back where we’ve historically been,” Staton said. “We’re young in a lot of spots but they’ve got experience. We’ve got to not be OK with being OK. They’ve got to dedicate themselves to the sport, to being the best, to training to be the best, to beat the best. As a whole, (the team) has got to get back to that mentality.” 

Scottsboro has all eight of its wrestlers that competed at the AHSAA Wrestling Championships last season returning, including its three state placers, seniors Kolby Clark and Clinton Stewart and eighth-grader John Stewart. Clark finished third in the 220-pound weight class while John Stewart placed fifth at 106 and Clinton Stewart was seventh at 120. 

Clark, who went 21-3 last season, will likely wrestle in both the 195 and 220 weight classes this season while John Stewart (26-3 last season) is moving to 120 and Clinton Stewart (24-3 last season) remains at 126. Also returning state qualifiers from last season are seniors Mason McKenzie at 113 and Lucas Bellomy at 285, sophomore Thomas Rackler at 132/138 and sophomores Aidan and Ansel Goggans, who will wrestle this season in middle weight classes. Newcomers for the Wildcats are eighth-grader Stone Staton at 106 along with freshmen Luke Calfee and Nate Warren, who could both make an impact in the upper weight classes.

“Our numbers are good. We’ve probably got 40-something kids out seventh through 12th-grade. Our junior high numbers continue to build. We’ve got to make sure we continue to mature and improve.”

Scottsboro again competes in the Class 5A-6A in the both traditional and duals state tournaments. For the duals tournament, Scottsboro is in 5A-6A Region 7 with Alexandria, Arab, Fort Payne, Lincoln, Oxford and Southside.

“It’s by far the toughest division,” Staton said of the Class 5A-6A. “There is a lot of talent in there. You have to be tough, and be mentally tough, and you’ve got to put together a string of good matches (to compete) at sectionals and state.”

Scottsboro opened its season late Tuesday with a dual match against James Clemens. Scottsboro hosts Fort Payne at Carter Gym on Thursday (5:30 p.m.).

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