Pelham’s Seth Branham claims state championship, Panthers have several finish highly

Published 1:52 pm Sunday, February 19, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

HUNTSVILLE – A special season came to an end for Seth Branham on Saturday, Feb. 18 inside Huntsville’s Von Braun Center in the AHSAA Class 6A State Wrestling Tournament.

Branham, who was one of the best wrestlers in the state this season, found himself fighting for a Class 6A State Championship in the 195-pound weight class, and he didn’t disappoint.

In several physical battles, he picked up win-after-win on his way to claiming the championship, but it didn’t come without some adversity in the championship match.

He used two major decision wins of 17-4 and 11-2 as well as a pin to power his way through the first three rounds and into the championship match against Mountain Brook’s Allen Baker.

In a thrilling battle between two of the state’s best in the classification, Branham ended up dislocating his elbow during the match. But, after having it popped back in place, he stepped back on the mat, dug deep and was able to fight through the pain on the way to a 7-3 decision victory to finish off his season with a state championship.

Branham was one of four wrestlers to place at this year’s state tournament, as the Panthers got top-six finishes from Noah Schilleci, Walt Calvert and Cash Tatum as well.

Schilleci was the next highest finisher for the Panthers in the 145-pound weight class, finishing fourth.

He received a bye in the opening round and then won with a major decision in the quarterfinals before falling with a pin in the semifinals. He did, however, bounce back with a 1-0 decision win in the consolation semis before falling in the third-place match in a tight 2-1 decision loss.

As for Calvert, he lost his opening match in a major decision, but he then got a bye and bounced back with a major decision win of 10-2 and a decision win of 2-0. He ultimately fell in his final two matches to finish sixth in the 126-pound weight class.

Tatum received a bye in his first round and fell in 4-3 decision in his first head-to-head matchup.

He followed with a pin and a 5-4 tiebreaker to earn a spot in the consolation semifinals. He ultimately fell in a 5-0 decision there and then fell via pin in the fifth-place match.

As a team, the Panthers finished 10th overall with the impressive run from those four wrestlers.

Nicholas Bramberg, Thomas Peerson and Tanner McCarthy all had one win in their appearance at this year’s state tournament.