Three Scottsboro wrestlers earned their way to the podium during the 2021 AHSAA Class 5A-6A Wrestling Championships on Saturday.
Scottsboro juniors Kolby Clark and Clinton Stewart and seventh-grader John Stewart posted top-eight finishes during the three-day tournament at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
Clark had Scottsboro’s best finish, placing third in the 2020-pound weight class. He went 5-1 in the tournament, his lone loss coming to 220 state champion Riley Kuhn of Fort Payne in the championship bracket semifinals. Clark, who finished the season with a 21-3 record, rebounded from the loss to Kuhn to pin Elmore County’s Matt Brown in 2:31 in the consolation bracket semifinals and Arab’s Michael Robertson in 2:26 during the third-place match. All five of Clark’s win came via pin.
“(Clark) wrestled well. He put together one of his better tournaments,” Staton said. “If he was on the other side of the bracket (from Kuhn), I think he pops to the finals. Hopefully he builds on this (performance) and goes down there next year and wins a state championship.”
John Stewart finished fifth at 106 during his state-tournament debut, going 4-2 to finish the season with a 26-3 record.
After winning his first three matches, Stewart fell to eventual state champion Cale Tucker of Chelsea in the 106 championship bracket semifinals. After losing to Elmore County’s Ramon Lozada in the consolation semifinals, Stewart defeated Fort Payne’s David Miguel by a 3-1 decision in the fifth-place match.
“(Stewart) wrestled tough,” Staton said. “We had a chance to get to the finals, but 106, there were some quality kids in there. For a seventh-grader to compete at that level, he’s got a bright future.”
Clinton Stewart finished seventh at 126, going 5-2 to finish 24-3 on the season. He lost to eventual state runner-up finisher Sam Sutton of Homewood in the quarterfinal round.
“It was a tough one. Clinton was ahead 4-0, really controlling the match, just got caught too high and got pinned,” Staton said. “I hated it for him because I think he’d have gotten to the finals.”
Stewart defeated Helena’s Seth McGrew by an 8-1 decision in the seventh-place match.
Also for Scottsboro, Mason McKenzie (12-4) went 2-2 at 113. He won two matches after losing his first-round match before falling in the third round of the consolation bracket.
Ansel Goggans (21-5) finished 1-2 at 138. He lost his opening-round match, then won his consolation bracket Round 1 match before falling in Round 2.
Thomas Rackler (19-8) at 132, Aiden Goggans (17-8) at 152 and Lucas Bellamy (12-10) at 285 all finished 0-2.
The tournament field was expanded 32 wrestlers per weight class rather than the typical 16 after the AHSAA did way with sectional meets because of COVID-19.
Gardendale won the team state title with a score of 189.5, 11 points better than runner-up Arab (178.5). Wetumpka (150), McAdory (146) and Fort Payne (137.5) rounded out the top-five.
Scottsboro finished 24th in the team standings with 57 team points.
Staton said the Wildcats’ team finish must serve as motivation to improve for next season.
“The main thing is that we’re not where we want to be and we can’t be OK with being OK,” Staton said. “We’ve got some kids that can’t be content with just being pretty good. We’ve need the desire to be a champion and need everyone to work to be a champion. We know the division we’re in is tough, but we’ve got to step up our game to get to that level of intensity.”