Photo: Southside High junior Carnel Davis won the Class 1A-5A 170-pound state championship at the AHSAA state tournament last weekend in Huntsville. (Courtesy of Sally Staub)
Panthers’ Davis wins title, Finley finishes state runner-up
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
One local high school wrestler won a state championship, another was a state runner-up and several others earned medals during the AHSAA Class 1A-5A state tournament last Saturday (Feb. 15) at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville. The top six finishes were awarded medals.
Southside High junior Carnel Davis took first place in the 170-pound weight division with a 9-3 decision over Mortimer Jordan’s Tyler McDonald. Davis, who finished the season with a 57-11 record, scored 25 team points to help the Panthers finish in fifth place overall out of 49 teams with 86 points. Ashville finished ninth.
Davis opened the tournament with pin of Pleasant Valley’s Hunter Sallee, followed by a 12-4 major decision over Jasper’s Ja`kelynn Walker. Davis then posted an 8-5 semifinal decision over Westminster Christian’s Cade Atkins before beating McDonald in the championship.
“Carnel has been great the whole year, and he wrestled fantastically at state,” said Southside wrestling coach Wynn Knight. “I thought that his bracket was one of the toughest, and going into the tournament, we figured out that he had already wrestled three out of the top four guys, so he had some familiarity with the field. But he definitely had to dig deep a few times, especially in the semifinals. Carnel’s a natural athlete and one of the hardest-working guys in the room. He’s a great guy and listens to everything we say and does everything we ask.”
Dathan Finley came a just a few points short of a state title, as the Southside junior lost a 2-1 decision to Jasper’s Preston Reed in the 152-pound finals. Finley (49-18) scored 22 points for the Panthers with a first-round pin against Thomasville’s Deterrance Wright, a quarterfinal pin against Arab’s Michael Myslinski and a 5-4 decision over Cleburne County’s Zachary Williamson in the semifinals.
“We told Dathan all week long that he was the best guy in the weight [class], and he wrestled like it,” said Knight. “Going in, Dathan definitely wasn’t the favorite to make the finals on his side [of the bracket]. Plus, he came into the week with a partially dislocated elbow, so he was dealing with an injury. He really dug down deep in the semifinals, and he just fell a little bit short in the finals. The one point we got was from the other kid stalling, and we felt like there could have been another one or two of those [penalty points], but you can’t leave it to the referees.”
Taking third place was Southside senior Daniel Loudermilk in the 182-pound division. Loudermilk (57-15) won a 6-2 first round decision over Weaver’s Devin Anderson and pinned Ashville’s Luke Harris in the quarterfinals before dropping a 7-1 decision to Corner’s Nick Brashear in the semifinals.
Loudermilk rebounded with a pin of Ranburne’s Jeremiah McCord in the consolation semifinals and a 10-1 major decision over Prattville Christian’s Kurt Reichert in the third-place match.
“That was the best tournament that Daniel wrestled all year long,” said Knight. “We had a game plan going in, and Daniel wrestled outstanding. He didn’t qualify for the state tournament last season, and this year he finishes third, so it was great for him to end his senior year on that kind of note, especially for Daniel being as good of a kid as he is.”
Finishing in in fourth place were Southside’s sophomore Calan Staub at 126 pounds and Ashville’s Nick Spears at 120 pounds.
Staub (56-16) opened with a pin over Beauregard’s Cody Knight then lost to Montevallo’s Jemari Harris by an 8-5 decision in the quarterfinals.
Staub posted a 6-5 sudden victory over Montgomery Catholic’s Titus Franklin in the second consolation round, followed by a 10-3 decision over Elmore County’s Stone Spencer in the third consolation round.
Staub posted a 17-13 decision over Moody’s Parker Dodd in the consolation semifinals before falling to Harris in the third-place match by a 6-5 decision.
“Calan only lost to one guy in the whole tournament, and it worked out that he lost to him twice,” said Knight. “Calan made one mistake with about 20 seconds left [in the third-place match], and that was the difference. But the big win for Calan was in the consolation semifinals against [Dodd], who was the returning [state] runner-up in his weight class the year before. We talked to Calan about diversifying his attack and ways to score, and he showed a lot of that [last] weekend.”
Spears (38-20) pinned Montevallo’s Gavin Monk in the first consolation round and won by 13-5 major decisions over Westminster Christian’s Luke Richman in the second consolation round and Shelby County’s Caleb Mooney in the third consolation round.
“Nick had a tough start to the year, but he really turned it on later in the season,” said Ashville head coach James Browning. “To go in as the No. 7 seed from the North section and finish fourth overall is really something. He really showed up (last) weekend.”
Spears won by an 11-1 major decision over Beauregard’s Jamal Whittington in the consolation semifinals before losing to Arab’s Austin Silva by a 15-7 major decision in the third-place match.
Three Ashville wrestlers took fifth place – Mason Vann at 152 pounds, Dylan Harris at 170 pounds and Luke Harris at 182 pounds.
After pinning Beauregard’s Requan Hooks in the first round, Vann (44-17) lost in the quarterfinals to Cleburne County’s Zach Williamson. Vann battled back in the consolation bracket with a second-round pin over Tallassee’s Mason Bell and a third round 10-8 decision over Arab’s Michael Myslinski before losing a 16-3 major decision against St. Clair County’s Ethan Scrivner in the consolation semifinals. Vann rebounded with a medical forfeit over New Hope’s Thomas Miller in the fifth-place match.
A pair of Ashville wrestlers placed fifth – Dylan Harris at 170 pounds and Luke Harris at 182 pounds.
Dylan Harris (42-16) opened the tournament with a pin over Saks’ Trenton Brown in the first round, the lost to Westminster Christian’s Cade Atkins in the quarterfinals. Harris rebounded in the second consolation with a pin over Elmore County’s Solon Lee, followed by an 8-3 decision over Jasper’s Ja`kelynn Walker in the third consolation round. Harris was edged in the consolation semifinals, 8-7, by Satsuma’s Troy Gibson and then fell to Arab’s Ryan Morelan, 14-13, in the fifth-place match.
Luke Harris (49-11) pinned Cleburne County’s Zach Salter in the first round, then was pinned by Southside’s Daniel Loudermilk in the quarterfinals. Harris battled back in the consolation rounds with a pin over Madison County’s Reid Tate and a 12-3 major decision over Elmore County’s J. Clement. Harris lost to Prattville Christian’s Kurt Reichert in the consolation semifinal before beating Ranburne’s Jeremiah McCord in a 10-1 major decision.
Earning points in the first consolation round was Southside’s Jacob Davis (33-24), who pinned Reeltown’s Carson Baker in the 145-pound division, and Ashville’s Jabe Burgess, who pinned Thomasville’s Christopher Bouler.
Ashville’s Cameron Tillman (46-10) scored seven team points with pins against Reeltown’s La`Brian Ponds and Mortimer Jordan’s Dallin Alexander.
“We had a really tough schedule this year, and I told the guys that we were going make sure that we would wrestle in multiple tournaments that were way harder than the state tournament,” said Knight. “We had a few matches early in the [state] tournament where we didn’t get the job done and turned out to be big swing matches for us. But those four guys did the work this year and they got to reap the benefits. Even with Daniel graduating, we have eight returning [state] qualifiers, three returning finalists and four returning placers. Plus, we’ll be getting [junior] Jacob Dease back, who won a state title [in 2019] but was injured this season.”
This season marked the first time in six years that an Ashville wrestler earned a medal at the state tournament and the first time in the program’s history that seven wrestlers qualified for state.
“Our guys worked their butts off (last) weekend, and I thought we did awesome,” said Browning. “The hard work that they put all year really paid off on Saturday. We’re one of the smaller 4A schools in the state and we’re competing against some very big schools, so to finish ninth out of 49 teams is pretty impressive. I’m can’t be any prouder of how well they performed and how well they represented our school. We have eight kids coming back, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”