Photo: Ashville High’s Nick Spears (top) competes against Cleburne County’s Ronin Brower in the 136-pound match during the Class 1A/4A Wrestling Duals Tournament championship match last Friday (Jan. 22) in Birmingham. (Courtesy of Sera Beth Potter)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Ashville High came up just short in capturing its first-ever AHSAA Wrestling Duals Tournament championship last Friday (Jan. 22).
Competing in the Class 1A-4A division, the Bulldogs (24-2) built a 34-12 lead over Cleburne County before the Tigers rallied for a 43-34 victory at the Birmingham CrossPlex’s Bill Harris Arena.
Ashville’s lone previous loss came at the hands of Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville. Friday’s setback snapped a 24-match win streak.
“I’m just really proud of our kids,” said AHS wrestling coach Jim Browning. “They worked for years to get to this point. We pulled ahead with a pretty good lead and everything was looking good, and [Cleburne County] won a few matches and started to pick up some momentum. We came up a little short, and I told our kids that it was okay to be disappointed, but I think we learned a lot.”
The Bulldogs opened the match with six straight wins, including five pins, before the Tigers notched eight straight victories to clinch the win. The last match of the competition went down to the final 24 seconds of the 120-pound division when Ashville’s Nick Williamson came up short against Anthony Champion.
“Nick was in a tough spot, but he fought very hard and gave everything he had,” said Browning. “I’m very proud of the effort he gave for us.”
Individual winners for Ashville were:
* 132 pounds: Nick Spears pinned Ronin Brower at 2:27.
* 145 pounds: Austin Hale pinned Zachary Scott at 2:20.
* 152 pounds: Justin Autry pinned Samuel Adams at 5:50.
* 160 pounds: Jabe Burgess pinned Jimmy O’Kelley at 2:30.
* 170 pounds: Dylan Harris pinned Justin Pate at 1:20.
* 182 pounds: Luke Harris defeated Gavin Wright in a major decision, 17-5.
Coming up short for the Bulldogs were Owen Meads at 106 pounds (pinned at 0:20); Jaden Harris at 113 pounds (pinned at 1:07); Tyler Edber at 126 pounds (pinned at 1:35); William Simpson at 138 pounds (pinned at 2:58); Trent Martin at 195 pounds (major decision, 4-14); Jacob Ebner at 220 pounds (pinned at 1:52); and Mason Wilson at 285 pounds (decision, 2-3). Browning told his wrestlers following the loss that they still had goals to reach this season, as the Class 1A/4A State Traditional Championships will be held on Feb. 12-13 at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum.
“What we’ve got to work for is still ahead of us, and I think our kids are ready to get back out there and compete,” said Browning. “We’re blessed every day that we can practice, because we didn’t have a clue if we’d be able to get through this season. But we’ve been going as hard as we can for a long time, and we’re still here.”
This article was supplemented by ahsaa.com.