Juliana Eldridge

[Courtesy Photo] Juliana Eldridge is named the girls champion of the 107-pound weight class on Friday.

Wetumpka’s Juliana Eldridge capped off a perfect wrestling season with a state championship on Friday.

Eldridge, an eighth grader and the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the state of Alabama, claimed the championship in the 107-pound weight class by defeating Arab’s Madilyn Rogers, 10-4, by decision.

With her win, she completed the season with a 25-0 record and was one of only eight girl wrestlers to finish the season undefeated.

“To see how much girl’s wrestling is growing is awesome,” Wetumpka coach Josh Highland said. “They put the girls on the center stage and had all the attention on them today. Those girls deserved it. Great matches, and Juliana in particular had a great match. She wrestled well and I’m so proud of her.”

Even more impressive than her undefeated record is the fact that nobody she faced even came close to defeating her. And while she did not give up a match all season, she did not even give up a takedown all season.

Not a single one of her 25 opponents were able to even secure a single takedown all season. That is a testament to her hard work, and the mentality that nobody can beat her.

“It was a beyond special season for her,” Highland said of Eldridge. “Her not giving up a takedown all season makes it even more special. She gets in there everyday and works hard. She was rewarded today.”

While Eldridge was able to claim the championship, the Wetumpka duals team was able to claim a Top 4 finish across Class 6A on Friday.

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Wetumpka’s team participated in the third-place match against Hartselle after finishing as the south’s runner-up. The Indians (14-3) narrowly lost the match to Hartselle, 36-35, to finish 4th in the state in 6A.

Both Wetumpk and Hartselle claimed seven victories each in the match, with Wetumpka’s coming from Ramon Lozada (113-pounds), Roman McWilliams (120), Tyler Mann (138), Chad Strickland (145), Jason Henegar (195), Christian Preston (220), and Willie Cox (285).

Three of those winners (Cox, Preston and Henegar) pinned their opponents, while Strickland won by forfeit in his weight class. The deciding point, however, came as Hartselle finished with one more pin than Wetumpka along with a forfeit as well.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted as a team, but we didn’t quit and that’s our biggest thing,” Highland said. “I’ve been preaching to them all year that it doesn’t matter what happens, we have to keep responding. If we’re wrestling that day, we want to come out on top. We wrestled well, but they just had one more pin than we did.”

Wetumpka, despite not having one of its best wrestlers in Noah Smith, was still able to finish as one of the top four teams. Smith, who wrestles in the 126-pound class, has missed the last week due to a injury suffered against Benjamin Russell in the quarterfinals.

In his place, eighth grader TJ Watson has stepped in and performed his best in the weight class.

“Not having Noah has really impacted the last few matches for us, but the boys have fought their tails off to cover for him and I’m proud of them,” Highland said. “We’ve had TJ Watson come in and hadn’t missed a beat. He’s had some tough matches, but for an eighth grader to be thrown in that situation, he’s stepped up to the challenge.”

Smith returns next week as Wetumpka looks away from duals play and turns their sights to sectionals coming up in the first two weeks of February.