Warriors claim section wrestling title
By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor
HOOVER — The Thompson High School wrestling team missed out on one title on its path toward its first Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championship a year ago.
The Warriors rightfully claimed their status as the top wrestling team in the state, but Thompson missed out on a chance to seal a Class 6A section championship after finishing runner-up to mat rival Hoover.
Thompson took revenge in a dominating manner Feb. 11 on the Buccaneer’s home mat, with a program-record eight individual section champions and state-record tying 14 individual state qualifiers on its way to a Class 6A section title at Hoover High School.
The Warriors claimed the Class 6A team championship with 13 state qualifiers last season. Thompson coach Shawn Weltzin said having a full stable of wrestlers competing in each weight division will help the Warriors in their quest for a repeat. The AHSAA state wrestling tournament will be held Feb. 16-18 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
“It gives us a better chance in the long run,” Weltzin said. “It puts us in a better position.”
The Warriors finished with 239 team points in the Class 6A section meet, which put them more than 30 points ahead of second-place finisher Vestavia Hills. Thompson finished more than 80 points ahead of Hoover, which came in third place in team standings.
Spain Park finished in fourth place in team standings. Pelham came in sixth place in team standings.
Thompson’s individual section champions included Conner Gilson, Mario Haynes, Brewer Gilliland, Nick Hall, John Austin (J.A.) Jones, Josh Gillaspie, Cahman Holder and Jesse Masters.
Gilson earned a 6-5 decision over Josh Rogers of Vestavia Hills in the 106-pound championship match. Haynes earned a 7-3 decision over Morgan Paugh of Vestavia Hills in the 126-pound championship match.
Gilliland pinned Connor Whatley of Spain Park in 5:04 in the 132-pound title match. Hall earned a 4-2 decision in overtime over Jackson Poe of Hoover in the 145-pound title match.
Jones pinned Jimmy Witt of Vestavia Hills in 1:12 in the 152-pound championship match. Gillaspie earned a 4-3 decision over Jack Nelson of Vestavia Hills in the 160-pound title match.
Holder earned a 9-2 decision over Jacob Thomas of Hoover in the 170-pound championship match. Masters earned a 8-4 decision over Alec Shunnarah of Hoover in the 182-pound title match.
Additional state qualifiers for the Warriors included Austin Gould, who finished third in the 113-pound division, Reed Jacks, who came in third in the 120-pound division, Cody Albarado, who finished runner-up in the 138-pound division, Hunter Pinneo, who came in fourth place in the 195-pound division, David Capers, who finished runner-up in the 220-pound division, and T.J. Rayam, an eighth-grader wrestling in a section meet for the first time in his career.
Rayam, the son of former University of Alabama football standout Thomas Rayam, finished fourth in the heavyweight division.
“(Rayam) is a tremendous athlete and competitor,” Weltzin said. “He just got the job done today.”
Spain Park featured two individual section champions and eight state tournament qualifiers at the Class 6A section meet.
The Jaguars’ Tommy Bostany captured the 120-pound championship. Bostany earned a 10-1 major decision over Richard Graham of Hoover in the 120-pound title match.
Spain Park’s Mo Mills won the 220-pound championship. Mills pinned David Capers of Thompson in 4:38 in the 220-pound title match.
Also qualifying for the state tournament for the Jaguars were Elijah Krukowski, who finished fourth in the 106-pound division, Connor Whatley, who finished runner-up in the 132-pound division, Marcus Jackson, who came in fourth in the 145-pound division, Kevin McClure, who finished fourth in the 160-pound division, Blake Daniel, who came in fourth in the 170-pound division and Kameron Ricks, who finished runner-up in the 195-pound division.
Pelham saw three wrestlers qualify for the state tournament at the Class 6A section meet.
The Panthers’ Riley Pike finished third in the 106-pound division. Mason Tortorich of Pelham came in fourth in the 132-pound division.
The Panthers’ Cody Wehunt came in third in the 160-pound division.