State champion Tigers
Hartselle nabs 5A mat title
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
PELHAM – In 2004, they beat on the door to a state title, but couldn't get it open. In 2005, they kicked the door in.
After coming within four-and-one-half points of a state wrestling championship in 2004, the Hartselle Tigers captured the 2005 state title with a 59.5-point margin over runners-up Scottsboro. The crown was the second in five seasons for the Tigers, who also took home the title in 2000.
"I didn't know a lot about the South," Hartselle head coach Keith Corder said. "I knew there were some good wrestlers down there, but I didn't know how many good ones each team had. I didn't expect us to wrap it up so early."
The championship's final round began at 3 p.m. on Saturday, but the Tigers clinched the state crown five hours earlier.
Hartselle entered the second morning of competition with 120 points to only 79.5 for second place Scottsboro.
The Tigers won their opening three matches of Saturday as Hunter Brasher, Brett Bidwell and Dennis Smith all won consolation semi-final matches to give Hartselle 132 points. Scottsboro was so far behind by then, they would have to each of their remaining matches to pass Hartselle. In the next match, Southside High's Jason Groover beat Scottsboro's Trevor Brown in the next match at 10 a.m., the championship belonged to the Tigers.
"It's kind of ironic," Corder said. "I graduated from Southside. I knew the Groover kid, so I went up and talked with him before the match and told him he could wrap it up for us. He said, 'I'll win.'"
The Tigers would go onto to total 159 points, while Scottsboro finished with 99.5 points.
Hartselle would tie a school-record with three individual state champions as Luke Mize, Kurt Hamilton and Adam Faulk won their weight classes.
Mize won the 140-pound class with a 6-3 win over Ben East of Arab. East had beaten Mize just one week earlier for the Section 2 title. Mize had been a three-time state runner-up, finishing second at 112 pounds in 2002, then at 125 pounds in 2003 and second in 2004 at 135 pounds. Mize had won his two opening matches by pins over Noah Hitt of Pinson Valley in the opening round and Graham Nelson of Oxford in the semi-finals.
Hamilton won the 171-pound class with a 4-2 victory over Josh Barmen of Benjamin Russell. Hamilton had finished fourth at 152 pounds in the 2003 state meet, before finishing as runner-up at 160 pounds last year.
Hamilton won his opening two matches, 11-1 over Wes Richardson of Walker and 3-0 over Chris Cousins of Gardendale.
Faulk won the 189-pound class with a 6-3 win over Heath Butler of Erwin.
Faulk had been state runner-up at 189 in 2003 and finished third in the same weight class last year.
Faulk won his two opening matches, 5-1 over Stan Galbraith of Homewood and 11-6 over Justin Johns of Benjamin Russell.
The Tigers also had four state runners-up in Rico Elliott, Corey Farmer, Travis Lightle and Brad Eubanks all advanced to the finals.
Farmer would retire with a shoulder injury with 1:49 left in the second period.
Elliott fell to the state's top ranked 103-pound wrestler in Di Withers of Benjamin Russell High School.
Withers topped Elliott by a 13-5 count, after Elliott had won his opening two matches by 7-1 and 7-2 scores.
Farmer would finish second for the third straight year.
He took second in 2003 and 2004 at the 140-pound class. This year he reached the 152-pound final before having to retire with what may be a separated shoulder, according to Farmer.
Lightle would finish second in the 215-pound class when he lost 6-1 to Ben Brisco of Arab, who won his second straight state title.
Lightle had pinned Brisco a week earlier in the sectional final. Lightle reached the finals by pinning his first two opponents.
Eubanks took second in the heavyweight division when he lost to Chad Beardon of Gardendale, 6-1. Beardon completed an unbeaten season with the win. Eubanks reached the finals with 5-0 and 4-3 wins in his opening two matches.
Dennis Smith and Brett Bidwell would both take third place in their weight classes, while Hunter Brasher finished in fourth place.
"I'm so proud of this team," Corder said. "All my guys wrestled hard. They all did a great job of staying focused. I'm going to miss all the seniors.
"I feel blessed to have been able to coach them. Teams like this don't come around very often."