Wellborn — who’d won three consecutive state titles from 2006-2008 prior to Piedmont’s emerging to win the school’s first crown in any sport a year ago — ended up in third with 158 points.
Piedmont’s win and the strong showing from the Panthers only added fuel to the fire of what has become one of the hottest rivalries on the mat in the state, with sectionals and the state tournament in the coming weeks.
“It was really big for us,” Piedmont coach Harley Lamey said. “Coming in, I really didn’t know what to expect, especially seeing how well Wellborn had been and seeing how coach Thompson from Oxford brought his kids in. But we had some guys step up. I was extremely pleased.”
Weaver was fourth with 93.5 points, followed by Saks. The Wildcats finished with 54 points to round out the five varsity teams in competition in the tournament.
The Bulldogs turned in a balanced team effort, with 13 different wrestlers placing in the top three of the 14 weight divisions.
Lamey got first-place performances from Brandon Gaddy in the 125-pound weight class, as well as Jordan Tyree (152), Clay Dent (171) and Demestress “Mickey” Jackson (285).
Luis Palacios (112) Randall Cannon (130), Jonathan Propes (135), Forrest Cannon (145) and Warren Alexander (285) each placed second and Josh Thrasher (103), Eddie Alvarado (119), Michael Devoe (160) and Justin Green (189) each came in third.
The quartet of first-place finishers were obviously big point-pullers for the Bulldogs, but it was the play of everyone that not only preserved but propelled Piedmont’s win, Lamey said.
“I think a perfect example of that was Josh Leath at 215 pounds,” Lamey said. “He wound up losing to (Nathan) Fulmer from Weaver. But he knocked off a kid from Oxford in the first round. That was his main objective — to keep them from scoring. Anytime you get a kid that can knock out a kid from another school, that’s going to help you.”
Piedmont’s B-Team finished with 16 points to place sixth. Weaver, Wellborn and Saks’ B-Team’s all tied for seventh.
Multiple-time state champion Dalton Carroll was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler while taking the 140-pound division.
Jackson — who’s only been in action a little more than a month since slimming down from 308 pounds following an all-state junior season on the gridiron — recorded the most pins. He dispatched each of his opponents in 1:23, including a defeat of teammate and Piedmont B-teamer Warren Alexander in the final.
Lamey was also named Coach of the Year.
Other county champions included Oxford’s Hunter Lee (112), Jordan Simpson (119) and Eric Lee (135), Wellborn’s Devron Taylor (103), Tyler McCarson (145), Michael Smith (160) and Chase Cooper (189) and Weaver’s DeAnthony Smith (130) and Nathan Fulmer (215).
Lamey described the victory in the county championship as “Step 1” for the Bulldogs, with sectionals being held a week from Saturday and the state tournament taking place at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center in two weeks.
“We have two more to go,” Lamey said. “It’s nice to have bragging rights here in the county, but at the end of the year people only remember who holds the blue trophy.”