Flexing their muscles: Thompson repeats as 7A Dual State Champions

By DAWN HARRISON | Special to the Reporter

BIRMINGHAM – There is a sign on Warrior Drive as you head toward Thompson High School that reads “Go Warriors! Win State,” and on Friday Jan. 24, that held true as ever when the Thompson wrestling team brought home the school’s third state championship this year and second in one day by claiming the Class 7A Wrestling State Dual Championship.

Taking on the Vestavia Hills Rebels, the two teams matched their 14 best wrestlers against one another, but the Warriors flexed their muscles as they have many times in the biggest matches over the last several years to repeat as dual champs with a 45-24 victory.

Thompson won nine of the fourteen weight classes with three pins, one tech fall, three major decisions and two decisions.

The dual tournament started with the 184-pound weight class, and Vestavia was able to put six points on the board quickly, as Jacob Gammill pinned Carson Freeman with only five seconds left on the clock giving him a fall time of 1:55 to put the Rebels on top early.

But Thompson’s Michael Jackson answered in the 197 weight class with a pin of his own late in the third period, as he took down Vestavia’s Trey Saunders with just 10 seconds to spare, giving him fall time of 5:50.

Not to be outdone Alex Ward of Thompson put another six points on the board for his team, as he pinned Bryce Littleton in the 222-pound division early in the second period with a fall time of 2:15

The 285-pound weight class brought the score back to even, as Dawson Ray of Vestavia Hills earned the quickest fall time of the night when he pinned Thompson’s Tucker Hutson in 34 seconds.

In the 108 weight class, both teams put on a show, as Blaise Albarado of Thompson took on Zach Flurry of Vestavia Hills. Both showed their skill as they went the full six minutes and then some before a tied score took them into overtime.

Albarado got the first takedown and the last, as he won by sudden victory to pick up a decision win of 10-8.

In the 115 weight class, Yanni Vines proved why he is ranked number one in his weight class. Vines controlled Vestavia’s Hasting Roberts for six minutes, only allowing him to escape just so he could take him down again. At the end of the six minutes Vines won via major decision with a score of 15-5.

In the 122 weight class, however, Christopher Hays of Vestavia Hills won in the lowest scoring match of the night against Cory Jones. These evenly matched wrestlers only allowed a total of eight points to be scored, keeping each other to only one takedown apiece, but an early penalty point given to Hays, and his two escapes to Jones’ one escape, gave him the points lead to pick up a 5-3 decision win.

The next three matches were all Thompson.

In the 128 weight class, James Latona of Thompson scored 19 points on Bryant Segars of Vestavia, while keeping Segars to only four points—all earned off of escapes. Latona ended the match with a tech fall of 19-4 to grab the dominant win.

Emmanuel Oliver of Thompson then controlled Vestavia’s Leighton Reese in the 134-pound match for all three periods, giving him a win by major decision with a score of 13-4.

In the 140-pound division, Thompson’s Wilson Kennedy earned the team’s third and final six points of the night, as he pinned Vestavia’s Luke Maluff early in the second period, giving him a fall time of 2:23.

Jack Lamey tired to turn the tide for Vestavia in the 147-pound weight class against the Warrior’s Will Garrett. Lamey controlled all three periods, but was unable to pin Garrett despite his best efforts. In the end, Lamey pulled off a major decision win of 10-0.

With three weight classes left, Vestavia was still in the fight, but they needed to earn 20 points in the remaining matches to pull off a victory.

It didn’t take long for Thompson to put the match away, as Will Miller sealed the Rebels’ fate in the 154-pound weight class when he took down Vestavia’s Chandler Merrill.

Despite a scoreless first period, Miller controlled the next two periods, earning 10 points to Merrill’s two points, which gave him a major decision victory.

Vestavia’s bad luck continued in the 162-pound weight class where Ashunti Perry of Thompson and the Rebels’ John Edwards faced off. Perry went on to earn a 9-3 decision victory.

Just like the match started, Vestavia ended it with a win behind Sam Willoughby earning a tech fall in the second period over Thompson’s William Browder with a score of 18-1.

But everything in between the first and last match went Thompson’s way, as the Warriors dominated to claim the title.

Now, the Warriors will turn their attention to sectionals, as they look to also repeat as Class 7A overall state champs in a few weeks.