Patriots place third in Dick Clem Invitational
BY LINDSAY VAUGHT
The Bob Jones High School wrestling team welcomed nine teams from across Alabama for a day of competition at the Bob Jones main gym on Jan. 16.
The tournament results are important for seeding in the sectionals in February, which will determine which wrestlers make the state tournament.
Bob Jones brought wrestlers in every weight category and finished in third place trailing Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville. The Patriots won one division and had several excellent individual performances.
Ryan Stenger won the 222 pound division with a pin over Hewitt Trussville’s Braxton Busby and ran his record to 28-4. He is in good shape to make the state tournament. Blake Rogers finished second out of seven wrestlers in the 122 pound division. Bob Jones coach Jason Edwards is high on Rogers’ chances to qualify for state.
“Blake has improved for us so much. This is his third year with us,” Edwards said. “He did not qualify for state last year but this year he is over 30 wins. He is in a tough division to qualify for state but if anybody can do it he can.”
Rogers finished the day at 3-1 and got a pin against Josh Southern, a state qualifier last season from Deshler.
“We have some pretty good teams here,” said Rogers who is a junior at Bob Jones. “I’m doing a lot better this year than last year. All this is for seeding at sectionals and if you win there you can get to state.”
The Bob Jones team does not have any current wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament last year.
Collin Oliver finished a respectable third in the 108 pound division.
Eighth grader Griffin Ridgeway went 3-2 in the tournament and finished fourth in the 128 pound division losing to defending state champion Brandon Womack of Scottsboro.
Micheal Delano of Bob Jones finished third out of eight wrestlers in the 147 pound division and Melvin Gibbons finished fourth in the heavyweight division.
The tournament was also an opportunity for some wrestlers new to the program to gain experience against opponents who qualified for the state tournament last season. One of those is Levi Hickson, a sophomore at Bob Jones. Hickson is in his first season on the wrestling team. He has been in martial arts since he was a youngster and is trying to catch up fast at a new sport. At the Clem Invitational he finished a respectable fourth in the 162 pound division going 2-2. He lost two matches both to wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament last year.
“One of my friends has been talking about how good wrestling was so I decided to try it out. I’m really enjoying it, tons of fun,” Hickson said. “The practices are hard. I’m just getting experience, learning what to do and when to do it. My goal is to make the state tournament next year.”