After the basketball team easily won the hoops version two weeks ago, the Yellow Jackets wrestling team handled its business Friday, taking home the first-place trophy after going 5-0 by defeating every wrestling team in Calhoun County.
“We expect a lot out of the boys, and they’re responding with a great work ethic and have great passion for their sports,” Oxford coach Monterrious Adams said. “We’re coming up. We’re a young squad this year, once again, only bringing in three seniors, one junior and the rest are sophomores and freshmen.”
Oxford’s journey to winning its
third consecutive county crown was only in question early as it faced Weaver in the fourth match of the tournament.
“We knew what we had to do to get it down,” Adams said. “We knew that was going to be our toughest foe for the evening, and we went out there and got the job down.”
While the Yellow Jackets were fresh off a victory against Saks, Weaver had yet to take the mat, which coach Andy Fulmer said hurt his team.
“It’s a tough match to start off with, seeing that it’s a round-robin dual,” Fulmer said. “To draw them first and not have a warmup in between or a warmup match, I thought our kids wrestled hard and we’re young. I think some of our kids may have been mentally better off if we wrestled them at the end, but they still beat us. We wrestled hard, and I’ve got no complaints. They were just better than us today.”
The superiority of Oxford showed in the first five weight classes as the Yellow Jackets won all five, including pins by Josh McDonald (120-pound division), Clayton Esty (126) and Jordan Simpson (132).
“We came out focused, ready to go and controlled the match from start to finish, I believe,” Adams said. “That’s what you expect out the guys, even the young guys who stepped up in a big-match situation like that, to lock in county for us.”
Jacob Howard (138) earned Weaver’s first win, followed by a pin by Caleb Allison (145), but Oxford was simply too strong.
Wins in the next three classes were enough to overpower the Bearcats’ late run, winning the final four classes and the match, 41-33.
“I thought our kids fought and battled considering it’s a tough Oxford team,” Fulmer said.
While it was back-to-back for Oxford, it was much different. Last season, the Yellow Jackets won the tiebreaker in a three-way tie with Weaver and Piedmont.
Despite his team finishing behind the Yellow Jackets for the second consecutive year, Fulmer was optimistic about taking second, saying it was a good builder for the Bearcats, who compete in the sectional tournament next weekend at Jacksonville State.
“Finishing behind them this year, our kids know that we have to work harder this week and can’t be satisfied,” Fulmer said. “The bigger picture for us is next Friday.”
Saks (which finished third), Ohatchee and Piedmont will also compete at Jacksonville State next weekend. Wellborn travels to Tallassee High for sectionals.
As for Oxford, the back-to-back county champ will travel west to Gardendale High next weekend with the goal of finishing in the top two, Adams said.
“I think we can get a lot of guys to the state tournament,” Adams said. “If we keep working like we want, I think we’re looking to win it this year.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.