Thompson wins 2nd consecutive state title, 7th in last 9 years

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, February 16, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – It’s becoming more than a dynasty, almost an empire of sorts, as Thompson’s wrestling team closed out its second consecutive Class 7A state wrestling championship on Saturday, Feb. 16, in dominant fashion.

It’s not just the second in a row for the Warriors, it’s the seventh in the last nine years, as Thompson has dominated the sport in that time span sitting atop Mount Everest with no one able to reach the summit to dethrone them.

This year, the Warriors didn’t just win the championship, they did so in dominant fashion by totaling 180 points behind eight wrestlers in championship matches and five of those eight wrestlers winning individual state championships.

That left three other wrestlers that finished second in the event and one other in third, as Thompson posted a total of 180 points to pick up its second state championship in a row by 63.5 points with Hoover placing second thanks to 116.5 points.

Dylan Lesueur, Chandler Akins, Gabe Hixenbaugh, Derek Hussey and Isaac McAdams all won individual state champions in impressive fashion to account for 112.5 of the team’s 180 points.

James Latona, Ashunti Perry and Tyler Gilson all placed second in their respective weight classes coming up just short of individual titles themselves, but those three played a key part in the overall title adding 48.5 more points to the total team score.

Possibly the most impressive story came in the 138-pound weight class from Hixenbaugh, who was looking to close out his career with a fifth consecutive state championship dating back to his eighth-grade year of middle school.

With all of that experience, Hixenbaugh was able to pick up easy pins in his first two matchups of the state tournament, earning a spot in the championship match on Saturday.

Facing off against Hoover’s Connor Dubble, Hixenbaugh didn’t just close out his career with a fifth individual title, he did so by way of technical fall thanks to a final score of 17-2 after dominating the title match.

Lesueur also had an impressive showing in the 113-pound weight class thanks to pins in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, leading him to the championship. In similar fashion, he controlled his title matchup with Hoover’s Nick Smith winning a major decision by a final score of 14-2.

After picking up the win, Lesueur laid his shoes on the mat, and walked away to show his retirement from the high school level of competition as a senior walking away with a state champion.

The 126-pound weight class saw two county wrestlers go head-to-head in a matchup that has been seen many times between Akins for Thompson and Oak Mountain’s Sullivan Tipton.

It also gave us one of the more thrilling Thompson wins.

After a pin in the quarterfinals and a major-decision victory of 9-1 in the semis, Akins found himself in a hard-fought matchup against Tipton, but still controlled the scoring.

Tipton was unable to put any points on the board in the matchup, which led to Akins grabbing a 6-0 state-championship victory.

As expected in the 160-pound division, Hussey saved possibly his best performances of the season for the state tournament. He not only swept through the first two rounds of the tournament with pins to earn a spot in the title match, he picked up a pin over Bob Jones’ Gabriel Pittman to win the championship, to sweep his three matches with pins.

He was also honored with the award for most pins at the tournament due to that effort.

The final state champion was none other than Isaac McAdams, who has also had a consistent effort throughout the season in the 220-pound division.

McAdams had a strong first two matches, picking up a major-decision victory in the quarterfinals and a pin in the semifinals.

In the state championship matchup, he found himself in a tougher battle with Hoover’s Bryce Carnes. Carnes was able to pick up four points in the matchup, but McAdams was able to close the match out with seven points to claim his title.

Latona’s second-place finish in the 120-pound weight class saw him pick up major decision wins in the first two rounds before dropping a 5-1 decision to Grissom’s Tyler Ivey in the championship matchup.

Perry also found himself in a similar situation in the 170-pound division. The junior won with a major decision in the quarterfinals and a technical fall in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship, but found himself up against Vestavia Hills Peter Dazzio, one of the state’s best.

In an entertaining matchup, Perry hung tough throughout, but in the end Dazzio was able to close out a 9-4 decision victory.

Gilson, wrestling in the 182-pound weight class, picked up a pin in the quarterfinal and a slim 3-1 decision victory in the semifinals before taking on Auburn’s Dylan Pearson in the championship.

Pearson proved to be too much with an 11-2 major-decision victory, but Gilson’s 16 points were a big addition to the final team standings.

The last top-three finisher for the Warriors came in the 106-pound weight class from Yanni Vines.

Vines won his quarterfinal match with a technical-fall victory, before dropping a decision to Ryan Summerlin of Vestavia Hills in the semifinals.

Vines, however, responded in a big way by bouncing back with a tech-fall win in the consolation semifinals, before taking down Spain Park’s John Robert Thompson with a 17-3 major-decision in the third-place match.

Repeating as state champs capped off a special year that saw Thompson win its 500th dual match and the state dual championships in addition to the overall Class 7A state championship.