In reporting on Arab’s most recent state wrestling championship – its eighth or 11th, depending on who you ask – I cut right to the chase about what I considered to be the most important angles involving the Knights.
Those included the Austin Silva rematch with the opponent who won by forfeit in the first round, Arab’s team-record six state finalists, the two individual state champions and the incredibly difficult, last-second loss suffered by Caleb Roe in his champ-ionship final.
By Wed-nesday, everyone knew the Knights had won the Class 1A-5A team championship (they won it on Friday, for what it’s worth). We had it on our Facebook page, and the school had it on its social media avenues. Local TV and radio had reported the results days earlier.
I’m not apologizing for it and no one complained. Deadlines come with the territory. But, seeing as how The Arab Tribune is a newspaper of record for such things locally, here are some basics – for the record.
• Arab captured its eighth state title since 2011, Thompson won its third Class 7A state wrestling title in a row and Class 6A Gardendale claimed its first state championship in 45 years. The three schools also won the AHSAA Duals Tournament titles in January.
• Here are the final team scores for the top finishers in Class 1A-5A. Arab won with 189.5 points. Jasper finished second with 115 and Ranburne was third with 112.5. The runner-up finish was the best in school history for the Vikings.
Also, Jasper was the team Arab defeated in the state duals quarterfinals that head coach Michael Pruitt said at the time was the Knights’ biggest threat. Arab won it at Jasper, with Caleb Roe winning the final match by pin to lift the Knights to a dramatic come-from-behind win.
“We’re not even in the finals if not for Caleb Roe,” Pruitt said after the duals tournament and again after Roe’s heartbreaking loss in the state tournament at Von Braun Center last Saturday.
And to clear things up, I mistakenly referred to Caleb as Joshua (his brother) in my column on Saturday. It was corrected in the online version but I also wanted to correct it here – for the record. (Josh also made it to the final of his weight class but lost as well.)
Ranburne is the team Arab defeated in the duals tournament final. So the Bulldogs also had a fine 2019-20, with second and third-place finishes.
• After Ranburne came Alexandria (88), Southside-Gadsden (86) and Mortimer Jordan (84). Defending champion Moody finished seventh at 77.5.
• Speaking of Moody, Blue Devils sophomore Cory Land closed out a 56-0 season with an 18-3 technical fall over Satsuma’s William Walker in the Class 1A-5A 120-pound finals to claim his third state championship in a row. Land also closed the season with his 110th straight victory since losing in the Super Sectional finals in 2018.
He was voted as the overall Most Valuable Wrestler in the tournament for 1A-5A.
So to be clear, again, I never wrote – and Austin Silva never said – the forfeit cost the young Knights sophomore an individual state championship. It did cost him a chance to win it and a chance to avenge his loss (by technical fall) to Land in the North Super Sectional. It also cost him a chance to be state runner-up, but to Silva’s credit, he roared back in the consolation bracket and took third place.
With both of those guys being sophomores, that’s a rivalry to keep an eye on.
• As a bit of consolation to Caleb Roe, his match with Montgomery Catholic’s Jack Burt was voted by coaches as the Best Match (6-5). Both received plaques.
• The Knights’ two individual champions – sophomore Cade Dunn at 106 pounds and Jacob Holland at 113 – defeated Pike Road’s Hinds Duncan (2-0) and Susan Moore’s Trent Robinson (6-4), respectively.
• Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast aren’t bringing back Kelsey Wingert, who has been part of the broadcast team the past four years.
The move was unexpected and made by the networks, not the Braves, who have the final say in the hiring and firing of broadcasters who call their games but not sideline reporters.
Kelly Crull, the former Cubs sideline reporter, will replace Wingert, but she won’t be on the air for the Braves’ two exhibition games this weekend.
Wingert is very popular and she’ll be missed, but from what I have read, Crull is “awesome,” according to one reporter familiar with her work.
More baseball (and SEC football) news next week.