Thompson finishes 2nd at state, Vines and Clark win individual titles

Published 10:01 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – The Thompson Warriors completed another successful wrestling season with a red map trophy to go with multiple first-place finishes at the Class 7A wrestling state championship at Huntsville’s Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The Warriors came in second place in the team standings with 166.5 points, which was only behind Huntsville in Class 7A.

Thompson brought home another team trophy thanks to many strong performances that led to finishes on the podium.

Those were headlined by a pair of individual state championships by Kiowa Vines and Avery Clark.

Vines went 3-0 at the state championship meet to claim the Class 7A 138-pound championship and finish the season with a 25-1 record.

He received a bye in the first round after claiming the north sectional championship the week before. For his first match of the tournament, he quickly took care of business against Auburn’s Lewis Miller in the quarterfinals, earning a pin 11 seconds into the match.

He continued his first-period dominance in the semifinals as he took on Opelika’s Brayden Wilson. He scored a pin 27 seconds into the match to advance to the first-place match.

However, the championship match was a much closer battle that went the full distance.

Vines and Huntsville’s Jake Ciccolella dueled over the course of six minutes, but in the end, the 4-2 decision went the Warriors wrestler’s way and secured him a state championship.

Clark capped off a stellar 56-6 season off with a 190-pound state title in Class 7A to join Vines atop the podium.

Clark’s sectional championship gave him a bye to the quarterfinals where he cruised to a dominant win over Smiths Station’s Amari Allen.

He shut out Allen on the scoreboard en route to scoring 15 straight points, which secured him the technical fall at the 4:00 mark.

His semifinal match went the full distance, but Clark still held his opponent scoreless as he defeated Bob Jones’ Sheldon Sharp by a 6-0 decision to reach the first-place match.

The only opponent standing between Clark and a state championship was Hewitt-Trussville’s Delvecchio Alston.

Points were hard to come by in the championship match as the two top wrestlers were locked in a battle, but Clark’s two points proved to be the difference in a 2-0 decision win to earn the state championship.

In addition to Vines and Clark’s state titles, Nick Dempsey and Paxton Miller each earned runner-up finishes in their respective divisions.

Dempsey won his opening round match in the 150-pound division over Foley’s Wyatt Cruze with a pin at the 2:28 mark. He followed that up with a shutout decision win over Tuscaloosa County’s Luis Melendez in the quarterfinals, winning the match 5-0.

Dempsey continued his dominance in the semifinals with a 9-1 major decision win over Enterprise’s Lemuel Lynon to earn the right to battle for a state championship.

Dempsey went the full distance against Huntsville’s Yanik Simon, who was 51-0 entering the match. In the end, though, he lost a 7-3 decision to cap off his 27-5 season with a second-place finish.

Miller earned a bye in the first round of the 157-pound division after his first-place finish at the north sectionals. From there, he defeated Tuscaloosa County’s Airen McCoy with a pin at the 1:49 mark of their quarterfinals match.

He then advanced to the first-place match with a win in the semifinals against Jacob Triplett as he beat the Hewitt-Trussville wrestler with a 7-1 decision.

Miller went on to lose in the championship match to Opelika’s undefeated Brady Campbell by a pin at the 1:14 mark, but he still earned second-place in the state for his weight class.

Marley Cholewinski earned third place in the 285-pound division to finish out his season.

He took two wins by decision to reach the semifinals, first a 9-2 win over Smiths Station Xerxes Ellison and then a 1-0 victory over Baker’s Jacob Wilson.

Cholewinski hit a bump in the road in the semifinals after losing to Bob Jones’ Tafari Alcime by a 4-1 decision, but he bounced back with two more wins to reach the top three.

He first defeated Auburn’s Kyle King by a 3-0 decision in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match where he beat Hoover’s Rodney English 3-0 to finish third in the 285-pound division.

Will Atkinson made a run through the consolation bracket to secure fourth place in the 113-pound division.

After starting the tournament with an 18-2 technical fall victory in the first round, Atkinson lost to Oak Mountain’s Trey Denny in the quarterfinals by a 5-3 decision.

From there, he won three straight matches by pinfall to earn a top-four finish. First, he pinned Auburn’s Joshua Bullington at the 1:33 mark, which he followed with a pin at the 2:21 mark against Foley’s Ian Snell.

He reached the third-place match with a pin at the 4:27 mark of his consolation semifinals match against Tuscaloosa County’s Dalton Todd.

Jordan Weltzin also earned fourth place in his division as he took home top-four honors in the 132-pound division.

Weltzin opened the tournament with a 15-0 technical fall in the first round and a 3-2 decision win against Central-Phenix City’s Joseph Soto in the quarterfinals.

While he lost a 5-3 decision to Smiths Station’s Timothy Luttrell in the semifinals, he earned a rebound win over Hewitt-Trussville’s Ian Hodgin by way of a pin at the 2:04 mark of their match to earn a top-four finish.

Henry Betke overcame a quarterfinal loss to earn fifth place in the 144-pound division.

After losing in the third period in the quarterfinals by way of a fall, he defeated Fairhope’s Bryce Boothe and Foley’s Cole Reid by pins to reach the consolation semifinals.

Betke lost in the consolation semifinals by an 8-1 decision, but he walked away with a top-five finish after his opponent forfeited their fifth-place match.

Braylen Johnson also earned a top-six finish in the 106-pound division for the Warriors.

He advanced to the quarterfinals with a second-period pin in the first round, but he met eventual state champion Jameson Thomas of Oak Mountain in the next round and exited the championship bracket.

However, he won a 13-2 major decision over Spain Park’s London Ford and an 11-4 decision against Central-Phenix City’s Phoenix Ayers to guarantee himself a top-six finish.