On Friday night beginning at 6PM, the Oxford High School Wrestling team will look to pin down a third straight AHSAA Duals State Championship. This match will be the end of a process that began with the team winning its third straight Region Title on Dec 27 at Benjamin Russell to get into the tournament. Over the past week they have wrestled Northridge (W 64-9) in the Round of 16, McAdory (W 38-32) in the Quarterfinals, and Wetumpka (W 33-28) in the Semifinals. All teams that gave the Yellow Jackets their best but unfortunately for them, they came up short. The match Tuesday night was high intensity and electric for Oxford with a familiar face clinching the match in Keeshon Siaosi. “That is two matches in a row where he has sealed the deal for us,” said Head Coach Kyle Routon. Siaosi’s win against McAdory as well gave the Jackets enough points, just like against Wetumpka to secure the victory and move on to the State Championship Match.
“Keeshon’s match was huge, but it was winning the swing matches early that really got us going and allowed the team to gave the victory,” state Routon.
Those swing matches he was referring to was at 285 and 113. With the match starting with Heavyweights, Kobe Shumaker was called on to move up a weight class, from 220, to face Wetumpka’s Heavyweight. From the beginning he was up to the task and after 6-hard fought minutes secured the 4-1 victory and put Oxford up 3-0. After Garrett Howell wrestled a tough match at 108lb weight class and lost by decision, the score was tied 3-3. Kaleb Shelton took the mat at 115lb and gave the Jackets their first pin of the night and a 9-3 lead. “Shu and Kaleb really stepped up and won big matches for us early on,” said Routon. “Either one of them lose and we are staying home Friday but they both wrestled the plan we had and gave us great wins. Shelton’s pin was a big boost going into the heart of our line up,” state Routon.
The heart he is referring to is 126-152 pounds where the Yellow Jackets have five straight wrestlers who finished in the Top 3 of the State last season. “It is pretty nice to have that grouping right in the middle because they can swing or just about secure a dual for us if they are on,” said Routon. On this night each was on with Landon Burrage getting a decision win at 128lb, Wesley Slick securing a pin at 134lbs, Chase Hicks notching a major decision win at 140lbs, Jakob Chisolm gaining a second major decision victory at 147lbs and Reed Hill moving up to 162lbs from his normal 154lbs and gaining another major decision. “We moved Reed up for a better match up and put Payton Ratliff in at 154lbs knowing he could hold his own. That was a swing match we felt could go our way based on the way Ratliff has been wrestling and looking in the room. Unfortunately he lost but it was only a decision so that was still big. It also builds confidence in him moving forward for the next round and years to come,” stated Routon.
Following Hill’s win the Jackets led 30-12 with four matches to go, knowing one more victory would secure their spot. As previously mentioned, that victory came at 184lbs by Keeshon Siaosi. When the clock hit zero the Oxford bench erupted and their head coach jumped almost through the roof. “Yeah, I was pretty excited and everyone has made some comment about that jump,” stated Routon smiling.
With the match secured the Jackets did not move anymore wrestlers and ended the night with Octavius Adair facing the #2 ranked 184lber who Wetumpka moved up to 197lb to face him. Adair wrestled tough but came up short. Then Xavier Deramus took the mat at 220lbs since Shumaker had wrestled heavywieght to start the dual. Deramus fought like the other Yellow Jackets but fell by pin. “Adair and D-Ram wrestled two tough matches. Adair has faced the #1 and #2 ranked 182lbers in the state the past two matches because those team decided to move them up for match up reason and he has held his own. We are excited about him at 197lbs the rest of the year. D-Ram is one of our 8th graders who have seen action in the line up this year and just like always, he gave us all he had,” state Routon.
Now the team will refocus its sites on Gardendale in a rematch of last year’s 6A State Duals Championship. The team may look a little different and the coaching staff may be different but they expect the same results. That is a third straight state title but that will be determined on the mat Friday night.
If you are traveling to the event here is some important information:
Matches for all divisions will be going on at the same time on three mats.
Wrestling begins at 6PM
Due to I-20/59 Closure the best route to get there is to take 459S to 65N and follow GPS.
Come be LOUD and Cheer on the Wrestling Team in their quest for number 3!