Area wrestlers enter regionals with impressive performances

Published 3:18 pm Thursday, January 4, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

As the road to the state championship heads into the closing stretch, wrestlers from Spain Park, Thompson, Pelham, Chelsea, Shelby County and Helena have earned strong results to establish themselves as favorites in their divisions.

Spain Park’s Kyle Oliveira and Bradley Williams currently stand as the lone two undefeated wrestlers in Shelby County, as both sit at 27-0 after claiming championships at multiple prestigious tournaments across the region.

Spain Park’s Kyle Oliveira grapples with an opponent at the Scott Rohrer Invitational. (For the Reporter/Dawn Harrison)

Most recently, Oliveira won the 217-pound division at the Scott Rohrer Invitational in Hoover, winning four matches by pin and one by technical fall en route to taking a 4-2 decision against Wetumpka’s Christian Preston in the first-place match.

At the same tournament, Williams cruised to the 152-pound division title after winning every match by pin or technical fall. He secured four technical falls during the weekend, including one in the first-place match against Hartselle’s Garrett Willingham.

Thompson’s Avery Clark has picked up wins over some of the top wrestlers in the region. (File)

Thompson’s Avery Clark sits at 36-5 against a difficult strength of schedule that pitted the Warriors senior against some of the top wrestlers in the Southeast.

On December 15-16, Clark finished in third place in the 215-pound division at the Kansas City Stampede. He went 7-1 on the weekend, winning two matches by pins and taking third place on a tiebreak, and his lone loss came to Buford’s Aaron Riner as the Georgia wrestler pinned Clark with just nine seconds remaining.

In addition, Clark won his division at the Indian Classic in December and took all three of his matches in the Dalton Carpet Classic.

His Warriors teammate Nick Dempsey is one of two wrestlers who lost just once in 2023, earning a 12-1 record this season. He reached the finals of the 150-pound Elite Division at the Gulf Coast Clash and has won all of his matches in duals and tri-matches.

Kiowa Vines is Thompson’s other one-loss wrestler, as he has earned an 18-1 record so far this year. He took third place in the 138-pound Elite Division at the Gulf Coast Clash, and like Dempsey, has gone undefeated outside of that tournament in duals and tri-matches.

Thompson’s Lynleigh Weltzin has also put together an impressive season with a 19-2 record in the girls 120-pound division.

She took first place at the Queen of the South, Girls Indian Classic and Ricky Miller Memorial Tournament, came in third place in the Girls Gulf Coast Classic and won all of her matches at both the Hewitt Grappling Girls Invite and Lady Panther Brawl.

Pelham’s Thomas Peerson won the Pelham Invitational’s 150-pound division. (For the Reporter/Dawn Harrison)

Pelham’s Thomas Peerson has gotten off to a strong start with a 15-1 record. The 150-pound senior won first place at both the Spartan Invitational and Pelham Invitational to highlight his season.

He beat Houston’s Caden Borneman in the first-place match in Mountain Brook with a pin 47 seconds into the match and defeated Ft. Walton Beach’s JJ Martinez off a 4-3 decision to claim the Pelham Invitational. His lone loss is to Spain Park’s Williams in a tri-match that pitted the two elite wrestlers against one another.

Tyler Rayford has been one of the top wrestlers for Chelsea in the 2023-24 season. (File)

Chelsea’s Tyler Rayford has earned a 25-4 record along the road to regionals. Rayford won the 150-pound division at the Chelsea Invitational in November and has earned three third-place finishes at other major tournaments, including the 150-pound division at the Huntsville Invitational and Spartan Invitational and the 152-pound division of the Scott Rohrer Invitational.

Chelsea’s Porter Schott goes for a takedown at the Scott Rohrer Invitational. (For the Reporter/Dawn Harrison)

Porter Schott is another name from the Chelsea Hornets to look out for as he enters the new year with a 20-4 record.

He claimed the 192-pound championship at the Scott Rohrer Invitational by defeating Daphne’s Colton Rainer in a 6-2 decision and a runner-up finish at the Huntsville Invitational’s 190-pound division.

Logan Sanders has earned a 16-5 record while wrestling for Chelsea this season. Most notably, he earned third place in the 285-pound division at the Chelsea Invitational, and he also came in fourth place at the Huntsville Invitational and seventh place at the Scott Rohrer Invitational.

Chelsea’s Heather Butler claimed first place at the Scott Rohrer Invitational in Hoover. (For the Reporter/Dawn Harrison)

As for Chelsea’s varsity girls team, Heather Butler is 19-2 on the season and is coming off a dominant showing at the Scott Rohrer Invitational, where she won first place in the 154-pound division by pinning Auburn’s Emily Lehr in just nine seconds in the championship match.

Shelby County has three wrestlers sitting with just one loss on the season in Cole Sykes, Nick Sykes and Keith Castleberry.

Cole Sykes has earned a 21-1 record after going undefeated in duals and tri-matches this season. Most notably, he won first place in the 175-pound division at the Spartan Invitational by defeating Jasper’s Carter Reed in a 5-0 decision in the championship match.

He also earned second place in the 132-pound division at the Ed Franks Invitational Tournament in Gardendale as he went 4-1 on the weekend. His loss in the finals is his lone defeat of the season.

He isn’t the only Sykes to excel for the Wildcats, as Nick Sykes has a 20-1 record.

Remarkably, the brothers have incredibly similar performances, as Nick Sykes is also undefeated in duals and tri-matches, took first place in the 132-pound division at the Spartan Invitational by way of a shutout decision over a Jasper wrestler, his coming over Carter Nash, and came in second place in the 132-pound division at the Ed Franks Invitational Tournament.

Castleberry stands at 12-1 on the year for Shelby County, with a first-place finish in the 215-pound division at the Ed Franks Invitational Tournament highlighting his campaign.

Castleberry defeated McAdory’s Jourdan Godwin with a pin 1:28 into their first-place match at the tournament.

In addition, he finished second in the 215-pound division at the Spartan Invitational and is undefeated in non-tournament matches.

Xander Shook has earned 20 wins on the year for Shelby County in a strong season. (File)

Shelby County’s Xander Shook has also put together a solid season with a 20-3 record. Most notably, the 165-pound junior reached the finals at the Ed Franks Invitational Tournament, and he also claimed third place at the Spartan Invitational.

Helena’s top wrestler this season is Kenyon Clements, who has earned a 20-4 record in his matches before regionals.

The Huskies’ 126-pound wrestler won the Ed Franks Invitational Tournament by defeating Hayden’s Harley Briscoe by a 7-3 decision, finished second at the Homewood Holiday Scramble and came in third at the Pelham Invitational.