Tipton wins title, others perform well at AHSAA state tourney

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

In a season that featured plenty of turmoil due to COVID-19, several local wrestlers traveled to the AHSAA State Wrestling Championships in Birmingham and Montgomery on a quest to bring home a title.

Competing in the Class 7A tournament in Birmingham, Spain Park and Oak Mountain put together inspiring efforts, including one individual state champion and several top-three finishers.

Down the road in Montgomery, the Montevallo Bulldogs wrestled in the 1A-4A tournament and saw similar success.

Out of all the great stories, however, the day belong to one Oak Mountain Wrestler.

Out of those three teams, Camden Tipton was the lone individual state championship winner after claiming the title in the 106-pound weight class.

It marked a special finish to the season after Tipton was forced to wrestle with a broken hand last year, which saw him finish third.

This time around, however, Tipton came ready to win the state championship.

He won his first two rounds via pins with fall times of 16 seconds and 21 seconds, respectively, to earn a spot in the semifinals. That’s when he took down Hoover’s Ty Sisson with a 12-6 decision to cement his spot in the 106 championship match.

Taking on Spain Park’s Bradley Williams, Tipton was in for his biggest battle of the tournament, but his motivation lifted him to a tightly-contested 8-6 decision win to claim the championship.

In addition to Tipton, Oak Mountain got fifth place finishes from Kirk Smitherman (113), Austin Buird (126) and Cole Burrough (145) to complete the tournament.

Spain Park, however, was the highlight in the team standings.

The Jaguars used seven top-five finishes to put together one of their best team finishes at the state tournament. They finished the tournament with 147.5 points as a team to claim third in the standings, which was less than three points behind Hewitt-Trussville’s third-place total of 150.

Williams was the biggest highlight for Spain Park after he battled his way to the championship match against Tipton before losing a tight match to finish second. He used two decision wins and a pin with a fall time of 4:38 to find his way into the title matchup.

The Jags also had three wrestlers finish third in the event, including senior Fischer Harrison, who battled his way back from a broken hip earlier this season to squeak into the state tournament and have a chance to finish his career on a high note.

Wrestling in the 145-pound weight class, Harrison won his first matchup against Diego Rodriguez with a pin, but then dropped his quarterfinal match against Conner Cole of Huntsville.

From there, he needed four wins in a row to claim third place and that’s exactly what he got.

Harrison grabbed two decision wins and a tech fall to advance to the third-place match.

That’s where he met Vestavia’s Leighton Reese. In a match that went down to the wire, Harrison scrapped out a 12-11 decision win to narrowly claim third and end his career on an emotional high.

Beyond Harrison, John Robert Thompson and Carson Ray also finished third for the Jaguars.

Like Harrison, Thompson lost his quarterfinal match due to disqualification. But he was able to bounce back with four wins in a row, including pins in the final two wins, to claim third place in the 126-pound weight class.

Ray won his first two matches in the 182-pound classification before losing in the semifinals to J.T. Foster of Hoover. He then bounced back with pins in his next two matches to claim another third-place finish.

Will Conlon also wrestled in a third-place match for the Jaguars, but ultimately finished fourth in the 170-pound weight class. He won three matches by either decision or major decision and lost two.

Spain Park added fifth place finishes from Gage Hughes (195) and Brandon Fortenberry (220), while Max Milazzo (138) and Kyle Oliveira (160) each finished in sixth.

Wrestling in the 1A-4A championships, Montevallo had two wrestlers cap off impressive seasons with top three finishes as well.

Wrestling in the 285-pound weight class, Cole Dennis led the Bulldogs with a finish of second thanks to winning his first three matches via pin.

He went on to wrestle Ranburne’s Carson Hall in the championship match, but Hall ended up grabbing the win with a pin thanks to a fall time of 2:37.

Hunter Bass wasn’t too far off his teammate’s pace in the 220-pound weight class. Bass won his first two matches thanks to pins, but then lost via pin in the semifinals.

He did, however, bounce back with two more wins in his next two matches with pins to claim third in the weight class.