Holtville's Alex Sears. Photos by Cory Diaz
Holtville's Alex Sears. Photos by Cory Diaz

Super Sectional: Local teams send 14 to state

Published 10:23am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Area high schools will send 14 wrestlers to the Alabama High School Athletic Association State wrestling tournament at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville this weekend.
Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore leads the way for the county schools, with five qualifiers apiece coming out of the AHSAA Super South Sectional held at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex Friday and Saturday. In Class 1A-4A, Holtville qualified three grapplers, while Prattville Christian Academy will send one.

Wetumpka's Tristan Leonard.
Wetumpka’s Tristan Leonard.

Indians Khaliq Jones (152-pound) and Marcus Graham (160-pound) finished first in their respective Class 6A sectional tourney brackets. Freshman Shalom Nowden came in second in the 145-pound class, while senior Tristan Leonard (182-pound) placed fifth and freshman Trent Holley (195-pound) wrestled his way to seventh.
Sophomore Harry Walker collected the highest finish for Stanhope, coming in fourth in the 220-pound Class 6A division. Josh Cherry (113-pound) and Travis Gartman (132-pound) both earned sixth-place. Ty Naquin (106-pound) and Terence Burke (120-pound) both garnered seventh-place showings.
For the Bulldogs, 182-pound senior wrestler Zak Jones placed second, while Alex Sears (106-pound) and Dustin Grier (195-pound) both finished fourth in their class. Sophomore Justin Calimlin (113-pound) secured PCA’s lone state tourney berth with his fourth-place showing.

Stanhope's Josh Cherry.
Stanhope’s Josh Cherry.

Wetumpka’s Jones (35-2) won all three of matches, outscoring his opponents 30-5. The junior defeated Auburn’s Kyle Kappelman by a 10-0 major decision in the finals. Senior Graham (39-1) pinned his first three sectional foes, spending just 5:19 on the mat. In the final bout, he bested Caden McWhirter of Prattville to the 9-3 decision.
In the Class 6A 145-pound bracket, Nowden (17-12) recorded a technical fall and two decisions before falling to Thompson’s Brewer Gilliland by pinfall for the top spot. Leonard (17-13) pinned Nicholas Mobley of Thompson in the fifth-place match and Holley (20-9) won by forfeit for seventh.
After winning his first two tie-ups, SEHS’s Walker (45-7) dropped his championship round semifinal to Prattville’s Chris Lujan (4-3 decision). The sophomore followed with a 9-3 decision victory, but lost the third-place bout to Bret Winters of Hoover (3-1 decision).
Naquin (50-13) and Gartman (40-18) each collected three wins and two losses for the showcase. Burke (44-9) won two, including his seventh-place dual pin over Auburn’s Hunter Cooper. Cherry (17-13) picked up three wins in six tries.
Holtville’s Jones (31-10) nearly captured his division crown, but lost in the finals to Drew Baker of Tallassee by a 6-4 sudden victory. Sears (25-15) pinned his first two foes, then lost to Fultondale’s Timothy Murphree by 16-0 technical fall. The junior rebounded to pick up another pinfall victory before being pinned in the third-place match to Bryer Stewart of St. Clair County. Senior Bulldog Grier (24-17) lost to Mitchell Holcomb of Fultondale in the consolation title bout.
After two pinfall victories, PCA’s Calimlin (18-16) ran into reigning state champion, Zach Van Alst from Montgomery-Catholic, in the championship semifinal where he suffered a pinfall. In the third-place test, Tallassee’s Steven Turner bested Calimlin to an 8-2 decision.

PCA's Coleman Wright.
PCA’s Coleman Wright.

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