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Shifting gears

By Staff
Several members of Tiger football team make move to the mat as wrestling begins
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Now that the helmets and football pads have been put away, Hartselle’s defensive line coach turns his attention to another sport — wrestling.
Dan Styles, entering his second season coaching the Hartselle wrestling program, cancelled several competitions for the team as the Tigers continued their way through the Class 5A football playoffs. Unfortunately, that postseason run is over, and now both Styles and several players have to shift their focus from the gridiron to the mat.
It will also be a transition for wrestlers like senior Caleb Blanton, who took second in his weight class at state as Hartselle’s highest finisher and was also one of the Tigers’ top linebackers. Fellow seniors Daniel Filiatrault and Jake Watkins were defensive linemen for the Tigers and now their attention shifts to the mat as well. Sophomore Kyle Davis, who will wrestle at 125 pounds this season, was a back-up Pony linebacker for the Tigers.
After winning a state title in 2004, the Tigers took a slight step backwards last season with a young team that finished 13th at state and failed to have an individual champion. Styles returns the vast majority of that team, losing just two seniors to graduation in Andrew Watson and Brad Eubanks. To improve on its 13th-place finish last season, Styles said the team needs to re-commit to toughness.
Styles has made several other changes to help prepare the Tigers for sectional and state competition. While in the past Hartselle has participated in duals, this year the team will participate primarily in competitions with double-elimination brackets, similar to the format used at sectionals and state.
One additional change the Tigers will have to deal with this season is a new state rule that regulates wrestlers “cutting weight” to move down a class. The AHSAA will mandate weight certifications much closer this year, including forbidding a wrestler from losing any more than 1.5 percent of his weight per week.
Hartselle has a loaded slate before the sectional tournament in January. The Tigers opened their season at the Huntsville Invitational Saturday and will host the Tiger Duals at the Pettey Center Dec. 16. Also on the docket include tournaments at Pelham, Southside-Gadsden, Buckhorn, Grissom, Arab and Brentwood, Tenn. In addition, Hartselle has several head-to-head competitions and tri-matches on its schedule.

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