Blanton's the best
Hartselle senior wins 145-pound title; team finishes 9th in overall standings
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
PELHAM – Hartselle's Caleb Blanton earned the Class 5A 145-pound title when he defeated McAdory's Heath Jolley in the championship match Saturday evening at the Pelham Civic Complex. Blanton, who finished the year with a 41-1 record, defeated Jolley in a 6-5 match that was competitive throughout.
Jolley scored the initial takedown to take a 2-0 lead over Blanton following one period. In the second period, Blanton took a 4-3 lead after scoring a takedown, an escape point and earning a point when Jolley was given a penalty for grabbing Blanton's headgear.
Jolley earned an escape point at the beginning of the third period and the wrestlers were tied at 4-all until Blanton scored a takedown with just 19 seconds remaining in the match to go ahead 6-4. Jolley earned a point when Blanton was penalized for stalling with 2 seconds left, but the penalty ultimately made no difference.
"Sometimes you'll take a stall point if you can run off some of the clock," Blanton said.
Even though he'd previously defeated Jolley during the regular season, Blanton wasn't take anything for granted.
"Every match is different," Blanton said. "We learn from each other and learn each other's moves, so you can't do the same thing twice. You have to come up with something different and you know that he's going to have different moves as well."
Blanton's win helped Hartselle finish with 52 points, good enough for ninth place and an improvement over last year's 13th-place finish. Scottsboro was the team champion, finishing in first place with 152 points and earning its second-straight state title.
In addition to Blanton, Hartselle had three other wrestlers place in the top four in their weight classes – Kyle Davis (125 pounds), Dallas Kalber (160) and Ethan Hamilton (189) each finished in fourth place.
"We qualified six this year, and four of our six placed and that's a great achievement," Hartselle coach Dan Styles said. "I think we're building our confidence back up, and definitely thought our attitude was better this year."
Blanton, who finished second in the 140-pound class at the 2006 state tournament, opened the tournament Friday with a 16-5 win over Erwin's Marquese O'Neal, advancing to face Arab's Chris Moody in the semifinals. Blanton took an initial 6-1 lead after two periods and hung on to defeat Moody 6-4 and advance to the final.
Davis (final record of 32-8) opened with a win over Gardendale's Derek Hallmark, pinning his opponent with 48 seconds left in the final period. The sophomore faced Brookwood's Rick Averett in the semifinal, but Averett had the upper hand this time, pinning Davis with 47 seconds left in the third period.
Davis dropped to the consolation bracket, defeating Moody's Kent Lawley before falling to Scottsboro's Tyler Machen in the consolation final.
Kalber (final record of 39-10) opened the tournament with a pin of Erwin's Marlon Poole, advancing to the semifinal against McAdory's Terry Long. Long defeated Kalber 16-9, but Kalber toppled Ben Barrontine of Fort Payne in the consolation semifinals. Barrontine was the defending state champion in the 160-pound weight class and also lost to Kalber in the sectional tournament.
In the consolation final, Kalber fell to Tallassee's Jonathan Haynes.
Hamilton, who was the sectional champion in the 189-pound weight class, fell in the opening round to Erwin's Kenny Currington. Hamilton (final record of 35-12) won two matches in the consolation bracket, pinning both Scottsboro's Billy Womack and Mortimer Jordan's Rob Glenn, to set up a rematch with Currington in the consolation final. Again, the Erwin wrestler had the upper hand as Hamilton fell 9-0.
Also qualifying for the state tournament from Hartselle were Barrett Eubanks (152 pounds) and Daniel Filiatrault (215) – both who finished tied for fifth place.
Eubanks opened with an 8-7 win over Gardendale's DeRon Washington before losing to Scottsboro's Chase Cuthbertson in the semifinal. He lost to Southside's Kyle Routon 5-2 in the consolation semifinal.
Filiatrault opened with a loss to Erwin's Jonathan McKinzie, but bounced back to win his opening consolation match with a pin of Tallassee's Sherrod Person. Filiatrault then dropped a 9-2 match to Benjamin Russell's Ahmeer Davis in the consolation semifinal.