Thompson finishes runner-up at AHSAA 7A State Wrestling tourney

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – A four-peat wasn’t meant to be for the Thompson wrestling team in 2021, but another historic season still concluded with state championships for the Warriors on Saturday, Feb. 13.

After winning the last three AHSAA Class 7A State Wrestling Championships, the Warriors hoped to make it four in a row inside Bill Harris Arena, but they couldn’t overcome a Vestavia Hills team that clicked at the perfect time.

Thompson battled the Rebels in the team standings tightly throughout the two-day state tournament, with both blowing the rest of the field out of the water.

At the end of Friday, the standings had Vestavia Hills in front 124.5-107. But with both sending several wrestlers into semifinal and championship matches the following day, that lead was nowhere near safe.

But early on the final day, Thompson lost three semifinal rounds, which kept them from having a chance later in the day to win three additional individual state championships that could have given them the points needed to overcome the deficit faced.

Nonetheless, the Warriors fought on with six wrestlers advancing to state championship matches in their respective weight classes.

The extremely tight battle between the Warriors saw very little separation with Rebels having 12 wrestlers finish in the top four compared to 10 from Thompson, the Rebels having 10 finish in the top three compared to eight from Thompson and the Rebels having three finish second in their weight class compared to two from Thompson.

But when it came to individual state championships, the two teams matched one another with four.

Yanni Vines and James Latona were the two highest point getters for the Warriors as both closed out remarkable seasons for the Warriors with state championships.

Vines did so in the 126-pound classification, winning all of his matches via fall or technical fall.

In the championship match, he took down Carson Farris of Vestavia Hills with a fall time of 4:00 to repeat as a state champion and earn 29.5 points for the team.

Latona matched that point total after picking up a forfeit in his first round match and then two pins in a row to advance to the state championship match in the 145-pound weight class.

Latona went on to pick up a tech fall victory against Huntsville’s Conner Cole in the championship match. It also marked a second state championship in a row for Latona, who also finished second three years ago.

Thompson got state championships in the next two weight classes as well thanks to Will Garrett and Will Miller finishing off special seasons.

Garrett took home the 152-pound state championship after finishing fourth last year in the 145-pound classification. He used two pins and a major decision to get to the championship match where he took down Hewitt-Trussville’s Lucas Reaves in a 5-0 decision to claim the title.

Miller’s win marked another repeat performance after he took home the 152-pound title last year.

This time around, he wrestled in the 160-pound weight class and put together a strong showing in the first three rounds thanks to two pins and a tech fall.

That led to a compelling matchup with Jack Lamey, but it was Miller who came out on top in a 6-5 decision victory to take home the state championship.

Thompson’s second place finishers were Thomas Giere in the 113-pound weight class and Nick Dempsey in the 120-pound weight class, as those two just missed out on a championship.

Giere won his first two rounds with pins and then advanced to the championship match with a decision win. But in the title match, Zach Flurry of Vestavia Hills won a tight 6-4 decision.

Dempsey saw similar success, winning his first match via major decision and then grabbing a pin in his second match before winning in sudden victory to advance to the championship match.

That’s when Nick Smith of Hoover was able to win an 11-7 decision to claim the championship.

Wilson Kennedy (138) and Carson Freeman (170) finished third for the Warriors in their respective weight classes after winning third place matches.

Cory Jones (132) and Jeremiah Coney (195) added fourth place finishes for Thompson after losing their third place matches but putting together strong runs in the tournament.

Kowa Vines added a finish of fifth for the Warriors after winning four of his six matches in the tournament in the 106-pound weight class.

Thompson lost in the team standings by a score of 277.5-240.5, but the Warriors capped off a special season that featured four individual state champions, the first girls state champion and a third consecutive duals state championship.