The Yellow Jackets took first place, finishing ahead of runner-up Weaver, Piedmont, Wellborn and Saks in the dual meet. Thompson was home sick, battling a gripping strain of the flu and was unable to lead his team.
“Our goal was to win the county and to win as many matches as possible,” third-year Oxford assistant David Lovering said. “We’ve done really well against all these teams in duals.”
Oxford’s Xavier Johnson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler, awarded to the wrestler with the most wins and highest number pins executed in the shortest amount of time. Competing in the 285-pound division, the senior pinned all four of his opponents in workmanlike fashion.
Johnson even got to try out some new maneuvers recommended to him by teammate Eric Lee.
“I got a couple of pins on some moves that I just learned a couple days ago, Johnson said. “I’m pretty happy about that. It was my first time trying them out in a match. I’ve just got to get used to it so I can do it better.”
The Yellow Jackets also got first-place finishes from William Hardin (103), Jacob Shake (112), Pressley Kelley (119), Jordan Simpson (130), Lee (135), Josh Shake (152), Gerald McGrath (189) and Mike Magothlin (215) on their way to claiming the county crown.
“This is out best team from top to bottom since I’ve been here,” Simpson said. “We’ve already beaten Hoover. I think we’ve got a pretty solid shot.”
Sectional play begins Friday and runs through Saturday with state tournament the following weekend.
Two-time defending champion Piedmont began each of its four matches well behind the eight-ball, coming into the tournament without the services of Luis Palacio, Brandon Gaddy (130), and Jordan Tyree (145).
Clay Dent finished first at 171 with three pins for the Bulldogs.
“It’s hard to beat a team when you’ve got to spot them 24 points. But we almost did it,” Piedmont coach Harley Lamey said. “But nobody remembers what happened at the county tournament. They remember what happened in a couple of weeks (the state tournament).
Weaver coach Andy Fulmer was named the Calhoun County Wrestling Coach of the Year for his leadership of the Bearcats, which produced one first-place finisher in Tyler Pugh (160) and five-second place finishers. That list includes Christian Cortez (103), Wil Mizic (119), Brady Fausnaught (130), Jacob Howard (135) and Curtis Humphrey (152).
Pugh’s victory at 160 came in his first meet since injuring his knee in a match against Ashville.
“He pinned a kid from Oxford. I thought he did a great job for someone who hadn’t wrestled in two and a half weeks,” Fulmer said of Pugh.
Junior Dalton Carroll, a multiple time state champion, was the only Wellborn Panther to take first place, scoring three pins and a forfeit at 147. The Panthers are the defending Class 1A-4A state champions.
“It’s completely different,” said Carroll on his role on this year’s team. Last year, we had all those seniors. I wasn’t a follower but I was just there and let them lead the team. This year, with all the young guys that we’ve got, I’ve had to show some leadership and take control of the team.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star.