Photo: Southside High’s Jacob Dease (pictured at top) won a second straight state wrestling championship at the Class 1A/5A state tournament on Feb. 15 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville. Dease defeated Moody’s Will Jeffcoat (pictured below) by major decision, 13-3. (Submitted photo)
By Cole Frederick Sports Correspondent
Southside sophomore Jacob Dease capped off a remarkable season with his second straight state championship.
Dease defeated Moody’s Will Jefcoat with a 13-3 major decision victory to capture the Class 1/5A high school state championship in the 120-pound class on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
The victory propelled Southside to fifth overall in the team standings and improved Dease’s individual record to 59-5. Dease earned 28 team points for Southside during the tournament.
Dease opened the tournament with a win by forfeit, then defeated Ranburne’s Bailey Henry by a fall in the quarterfinals. Dease then defeated Westminster Christian’s Luke Richman in a major decision, 15-3, to gain a berth in the finals.
“It feels really good, because I know I’ve put in the work to get to where I am,” Dease said. “Last year, there was talk about (me winning a state championship) being a fluke. This year helped to show people that I deserved to win.”
First-year Southside coach Wynn Knight said that Dease put in the work all offseason and earned his state title.
“I knew coming in that I had a returning state champion, so the expectation was set high,” Knight said. “Jacob puts in all the offseason work. He does everything you ask him to do. He’s a hardworking kid.”
Knight added that Dease’s championship is great for the morale of his program and that younger wrestlers at Southside look up to the sophomore.
“It means a lot for the program,” said Knight. “We finished fifth (overall), which is a good finish. But it’s not a ‘Southside good’ finish. So, to have a state champion right off the bat is great for team morale. He sets a great example of what to do for the other guys and the young guys coming in. A lot of our junior high kids look up to him and have a lot of respect for him.”
Dease now has his sights set on becoming an All-American before next season begins. He then wants to add to his growing legacy with more state titles in the next two years.
“One of my goals for this year is to place in the top eight at the national tournament to get All-American status,” he said. “In high school wrestling, I want to win state two more times to get four state championships.”
Knight said Dease bought into his program from the beginning, noting that he is proud to see Dease’s hard work rewarded with another state championship.
“The best thing I can say about Jacob is that coming in, the first thing I had to have kids do was buy in to my program, since there was a coaching change,” Knight said. “Jacob bought in immediately. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do. He’s a hard worker and a great kid.”
Two other local wrestlers finished in third place. Southside’s Ethan Stevenson pinned Mark Stitt of Jasper in the 170-pound weight class to avenge a loss to Stitt earlier in the season. Stevenson earned 21.5 team points. Gadsden City junior Samuel Jaggears finished 43-2 on the season after posted a 1-0 decision over Hoover’s Riley Huff in the 126-pound weight class.
Southside freshman Calan Staub placed fourth in 1A/5A in the 113-pound weight class after defeating Austin Silva of Arab in overtime. Silva had previously beaten Staub at the Super Sectional Tournament. Staub opened the tournament with a pin against Satsuma’s Williams Walker, then edged Madison Academy’s Shawn Ammerman, 8-7, in the quarterfinals. Staub earned 14 team points.
Taking fifth place at 138 pounds was Southside senior Ben Sanders, who pinned St. James’ Gabe Robbins. Robbins had beaten Sanders by decision earlier in the tournament. Sanders earned 15 team points.
Publisher/Editor Chris McCarthy contributed to this article.