Warriors lead wrestling preview

The Thompson High School wrestling team is aiming for its first Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A team state championship this year in only its fifth varsity season. (Contributed/Angela Gillaspie)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

The Thompson High School wrestling team sent a school record 11 qualifiers to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state tournament last season.

The Warriors saw their first two individual champions in school history and finished a school-record fourth in the team standings.

Thompson is aiming for its first AHSAA Class 6A team state championship this year in only its fifth varsity season.

Meanwhile, Calera begins its first season with a wrestling program and hopes to follow the same blueprint Thompson used.

See below for a complete report on each team.

OAK MOUNTAIN

Class 6A, Section 3

Head coach: Steve Burrough

Wrestlers: Logan Dollins, Jared Godfrey, Sam Jasinski, Chase Keel, Michael LaRiviere, Angus McBee, Blake Miller, John David Peden, Matthew Willis, Jacob Darty, Billy Dasher, Cole Greenway, Sam Hix, Eric Lowe, Conrad McBee, Connor McDonald, Jake Miller, Jacob Parker, Grant Reese, Chris Richmond, Lloyd Time, Matthew Bass, Vincent Kimbrough, Evan Webb, Justin Woodall, DeJuan Phillips and Jeff Back

Season outlook: The Eagles will be in rebuilding phase after losing a talented group of wrestlers to graduation from a team that went 36-1 in head-to-head matches, including 119-pounder Tanner Moon and 152-pounder Jared Woodall. Oak Mountain, which has only one senior on its roster, will look for leadership from 160-pound junior Justin Woodall. Woodall wrestled in the Class 6A state tournament final a year ago.

PELHAM

Class 6A, Section 2

Head coach: Eric Pollard

Wrestlers: Wade Thomas, Jacob Blackmon, Nick English, Zach Freeze, Cody Wehunt, Logan Huey, Brandon Gaines, Tre Maynard, Tyler Ray, Nick Farren, Mason Tortorich, Chase Kimbrell, Robby Brantley, Chase Mote, John Brito and Josue Sandoval

Season outlook: The Panthers lost 145-pounder Taylor Anchors to graduation, but Pelham should be in good shape with three Class 6A state tournament qualifiers returning. Senior 125-pounder Logan Huey and sophomore 119-pounder Zach Freeze are coming off impressive seasons. Cody Wehunt, a 130-pound sophomore, also qualified for the Class 6A state tournament last year.

SPAIN PARK

Class 6A, Section 2

Head coach: Willie Wyatt

Wrestlers: Jackson Cotney, Elijah Krukowski, Tommie Broadwater, Andres Galindo, Marcus Jackson, Connor Whatley, Conrad Hathcoat, Brandon Stanley, Dillon Osborne, Connor Tinney, Alex Potts, Alec Hudson, Blake Daniels, Maurtice Mill, Ian Kirkpatrick, Kameron Ricks, Emmanual Cooper, Martin Canales and Bryant Novick

Season outlook: The Jaguars lost a few key wrestlers to graduation, including defending 135-pound Class 6A state champion and University of Pennsylvania signee Geoffrey Bostany. Junior Kameron Ricks, a 189-pounder, is one of the few returning wrestlers with experience. Senior heavyweight Emmanual Cooper, a standout defensive lineman on the Spain Park football team, will play a key role.

THOMPSON

Class 6A, Section 2

Head coach: Shawn Weltzin

Wrestlers: Jackson Adelberg, Cody Albarado, Clay Anthony, Branden Belser, Jonathan Berry, Trey Berryhill, Justin Brown, Justin Byrd, David Capers, Alex Costes, Shane Evans, Wil Fondren, Hayden Franklin, Hunter Gatlin, Josh Gillaspie, Brewer Gilliland, Conner Gilson, Matt Gilson, Austin Gould, Nick Hall, Mario Haynes, Tyler Hicks, Travis Hill, Cahmon Holder, Reed Jacks, Matt Johnson, Colt Jones, John Austin (J.A.) Jones, Chris Lloyd, Nick Lowe, Miguel Madrigal, Jesse Masters, Jay Mayhall, Jimmy Miller, Clint Milligan, Brandon Morgan, Luis Munoz, Kolby Newton, Hunter Pinneo, Jack Scott, Reid Simpson, Levi Springer, Chris Verbitski and Austin Wilhite

Season outlook: The Warriors featured a program-record 11 Class 6A state qualifiers and the school’s first two Class 6A state champions last season. Nick Hall, a 140-pound sophomore, and Josh Gillaspie, a 152-pound junior, return after capturing state crowns last season. Junior John Austin (J.A.) Jones wrestled in the U.S.A. Wrestling Greco-Roman Nationals 145-pound final this summer. The talented trio will lead the Warriors this season.

CHELSEA

Class 5A, Section 1

Head coach: Larry McSwain

Wrestlers: Justin Medler, Corey Moore, Zach Hensley, Michael Early, Trevor Lawler, Hunter Needham, Shane Paramore, Damian Tinney, Zach VanDerGeest, David Downard, John Dowd and Cameron Ward

Season outlook: The Hornets will miss 135-pounder Curtis Crooks, who finished fourth in the Class 5A state tournament a year ago in his senior season. Chelsea also lost 215-pounder Thomas Blottin to graduation. Senior 152-pounder Justin Medler qualified for the state tournament last season and will lead the Hornets’ younger wrestlers.

SHELBY COUNTY

Class 5A, Section 1

Head coach: Michael Harrison

Wrestlers: Justin Abbott, Killian Berens, Donnie Brechin, Noah Dorough, Stephen Erhart, Dylan Grantham, Nathan Herrington, Jeffrey Hughes, Hayden Leeper, Avery Manning, Luke Miller, Brandon Morris, Jacob Oliver, Johnathon Perrine, Austin Poe, Nathan Sawyer, Chase Weeks, Dylan Wilcox and Keaton Wood

Season outlook: The Wildcats will miss two wrestlers who graduated in 171-pounder Gerald Nichols and 189-pounder Josh Reid, who each qualified for the Class 5A state tournament last season. Senior Jeffrey Hughes, a 152-pounder, and sophomore heavyweight Jacob Oliver are returning Class 5A state qualifiers and will lead Shelby County this season.

CALERA

Class 1A-4A, Section 1

Head coach: Kevin Pughsley

Wrestlers: Trey Kiley, Michael Strong, Wesley Posey, Robert Thomaston, Alex (Bull) Culbert, Justin Thomas, Marcus Bush, Isaiah Alexander, Braxton Stokes, Brian McDonald, Christian McDonald, Jarrett Seiger, Austin Dowdy, Keenan Agee, Josh Wood, Jake Thomas, Shawn O’Neal, Coby Mize, Danny Diaz, Cody Thomaston and Kevin Murry.

Season outlook: The Eagles will field a varsity wrestling team for the first time in school history this season. Calera wrestlers will use the first year to gain valuable experience. The Eagles will look to mirror the growth of Thompson’s wrestling program, which has quickly gained ground on other established wrestling programs.