Chelsea, Helena, Pelham qualify 20 wrestlers for state

Published 4:47 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

MONTGOMERY – State championships were clearly on the minds of wrestlers for Chelsea, Helena and Pelham at the 2019 South Super Sectional meet held at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery between Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9, as the three schools combined to qualify 20 wrestlers for the state meet later this week.

It was a remarkable showing for all three teams, as each school had at least a second place finisher in at least one weight class. All three teams also finished inside the top 10 of the overall team standings with Chelsea and Helena in sixth and seventh, respectively, and Pelham just behind in 10th.

For the Chelsea Hornets, it was a dominant showing that had them in the hunt for the overall team title at the meet thanks to 10 wrestlers finishing in the necessary top eight of their respective weight class to qualify for the state meet.

The Hornets had three wrestlers finish inside the top two of their weight class thanks to a first-place finish by Sam Ingram and second place finishes from both Adam Byerman and Elliot Gage.

Ingram, wrestling in the 170-pound weight class, put together an effort that featured an overall record of 4-0, two pins, one major-decision win and a decision victory of 5-0 in the first-place match to punch his ticket to state.

In the 113-pound division, Byerman was able to take advantage of a bye in the first round, before picking up a decision victory and a pin in the next two rounds. He ended up losing a tough decision match in the championship by a score of 9-4.

Similarly, Gage received a bye to kick off his run in the 195-pound weight class, and then followed that up with a pin and a major decision to earn his spot in the first-place match. In that match, he also lost a tough one, getting pinned to give him second.

Other top five finishes for Chelsea, included Wesley Pouncey and Casey Stewart, while Jamian Gandy and Hunter Guarnieri both finished in sixth.

Outside of the three top two finishers, Pouncey was the next highest finisher coming in fourth in the 220-pound weight class. He won three of his first four matches, all via pin, before losing a tight 8-5 decision in the third-place match.

Just behind that fourth-place finish was Stewart, who took home fifth in the 126-pound division. Stewart also won three of his first four matches with a tech fall, a pin and a decision, but lost in the consolation semis. He then bounced back for a decision victory of 12-6 in the fifth-place match.

Gandy went 3-3 in the 145-pound weight class with three decision wins, while Guarnieri went 3-3 in the 160-pound weight class, including wins via major decision, pin and medical forfeit.

Hakeem Stanford (182), Connor Mims (152) and Bear Maxwell (106) were the final three wrestlers to qualify after Stanford finished seventh and both Mims and Maxwell finished eighth to qualify on the number.

While the Helena Huskies didn’t qualify quite as many wrestlers with seven qualifying for state, they were much more top heavy in the standings with three individual winners.

Those first-place finishers included Michael Moran (113), Will Miller (126) and Nathan Dunaway (220).

After receiving a bye in the first round, Moran went on to pick up a pin in the quarterfinals, followed by slim decision wins of 2-0 and 9-4 in the semifinal and first place matches, respectively.

Miller’s showing was also impressive, as he took advantage of a first-round bye as well. He followed that up with a tech-fall victory in the quarterfinals, an 11-0 major-decision win the semis and an 11-4 decision win the in the first-place match.

Dunaway, however, possibly had the strongest showing of any Class 6A wrestler there. Having become one of the best wrestlers in his weight class, Dunaway put together four consecutive pins to sweep through the 220-pound weight class with ease, and now he’ll go to the state meet as a strong favorite.

The Huskies also had two other wrestlers finish inside the top four thanks to Justin Yunke picking up third in the 132-pound weight class and Seth McGrew grabbing fourth in the 106-pound weight class.

After receiving a bye in the first round, Yunk split the next two rounds picking up a pin the quarterfinals before getting pinned in the semifinals. He followed that up, however, by picking up a pin and a major decision in the next two rounds to claim third.

McGrew also had a strong showing, and actually won four of his first five matches with one pin, one major-decision win and two decision victories, before losing the third place match via pin. 

The final two Helena wrestlers to qualify for state were Davis Cummings in the 160-pound weight class and Matthew Ray in the 285-pound weight class, as each finished eighth.

For the Pelham Panthers, only three wrestlers qualified for the state meet, but those three will all have strong chances at winning an individual title after each finished inside the top four at the sectional meet.

The highest of those finishes came from Bryce Wanagat in the 126-pound weight class. He received a bye in the first round before picking up two straight pins before falling to Miller in the first-place match in an 11-4 decision.

Seth Branham also had a strong showing in the 138-pound weight class by finishing third thanks to four wins to just one loss. His four victories came from two tech falls, one pin and one decision, while his lone loss was a tie breaker loss.

To close out the qualifiers for the Panthers, Joseph Chimento finished fourth in the 160-pound weight class. After receiving a bye in the first round, Chimento went 2-2 over the final four matches picking up one tech-fall win and one pin.