Hartselle wrestling enjoys huge turnaround
By Keith Corder
For the Enquirer
Last season was arguably the lowest point of Hartselle wrestling since its dominance in the early 2000s. Not a single Tiger wrestler qualified for the state tournament last year.
That all changed this season. The Hartselle Wrestling Team has qualified nine wrestlers for the upcoming 6A State Wrestling Tournament.
From 2000-2005, Hartselle wrestling was one of the dominant programs in the state. Hartselle placed top three in the state four out of five years, including state championships in 2000 and 2005.
Over the past 13 years, however, the program has been on a steady decline – but this year’s team has recovered and has things heading back in the direction Hartselle wrestling is accustomed to.
Leading the Tigers over the past several seasons have been coaches Dennis Smith, Danny Timm and Matt Watson. All of these coaches wrestled for Keith Corder on the dominant teams of the past. None of them are school employees, and they have worked hard to keep the program alive.
This year the coach who led the Tigers from 1994-2005 has returned to help try and turn things around. Corder rejoins Hartselle after 13 years away from coaching, uniting with Smith and Timm to coach the junior high and varsity teams while four-time state finalist and three-time state champion Matt Watson coaches the lifeline of the program – the Hartselle Youth Wrestling Program.
This year’s state qualifiers include four wrestlers who are young enough to wrestle JV, as well as a first-year wrestler. The other qualifiers are sophomores, except for one senior.
State qualifiers from Hartselle, listed with their weight class, are:
- seventh-grader Lincoln Bryant, 106 pounds
- eighth-grader Payton Roberts, 113 pounds
- eighth-grader Ethan England, 120 pounds
- 12th-grader Seth Patrick, 132pounds
- 10th-grader Brody Wade, 138 pounds
- 11th-grader Karl England, 145 pounds
- 10th-grader Daniel Bolio, 152 pounds
- ninth-grader Conner Sparkman, 160 pounds
- 10th-grader Brian Torbert, 170 pounds
These nine wrestlers have not been alone in this year’s turnaround. Other members of this year’s team are Braden Bevis, Xander Waddell, Zyler Waddell, Braxton Quattlebaum, Kevin Heatherley, Anwesh Dhugana, Austin Spivey, Billy Davis, Clayton Jones, Hunter Owens, Jameyson Waits, Jonathan McClesky, London Wood, Malachi Collett, Nick Hughes, Nolen Willingham and Heavyweight Ryan Garrison, who missed the season after breaking his leg during football season.
In addition to the 26 wrestlers on the team now, which sees 25 of the them returning, Hartselle has five sixth-graders and one seventh-grader moving up to next year’s team. Additionally, Caden McDonald, Gage Roberts, Garrett Willingham, Jameson Falciani, Jacob Dosier and Ethan Baldazo are all highly successful youth wrestlers who will provide a strong addition of young talent to the Hartselle program.
The state tournament begins Feb. 14 at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville. Wrestling starts at 10:30 a.m.
Wrestling continues Feb. 15 at 9:30 a.m., and the medal rounds begin Feb. 16 at 9 a.m., with the state championship matches beginning at 11:30 a.m.