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Benjamin Russell Senior Hezekiah Hunter’s Quick Pins Grabs AHSAA Wrestling Spotlight

MONTGOMERY – Senior wrestler Hezekiah Hunter of Benjamin Russell High School posted four wins at the Wetumpka Indians Invitational last week – three coming on pins in the first minute of each match – to capture the first AHSAA Wrestling Spotlight of the 2020 season.
    The Wildcats from Alexander City, coached by Michael Ransaw, had five wrestlers win individual weight classes and captured the meet with 255.5 points. Hunter, wrestling in the 170-pound division, earned 51.5 of his team’s total points with his dominating effort. He faced John Paul Uter of Gulf Shores, who came in ranked No. 1 in the state at 170 pounds in the Alabama Wrestling Coaches wrestling poll. Hunter, who was 42-10 as a junior and finished as Class 6A runner-up in the 2019 AHSAA state meet, pinned Uter at 1:36 to finish the tourney with four wins in less than four minutes total.
   Teammate Saxon Coker also won the 152-pound division gold with a 7-0 decision over Prattville’s Jonathan Drury in the finals to extend his winning streak to 28 straight matches. Nytshad Hannon also won the 126-pound title, Sandlin Pike won the 113-pound division and Kyle Mattox won at 120 pounds for Benjamin Russell.
    Coker (43-8), who had 28 straight wins after the Indians Invitational competition, followed up by finishing third at the Scott Rohrer Invitational at Hoover. He also finished second in last year’s state meet finishing 63-9 in the 152-pound weight class. The Wildcats finished third last in Class 6A last year behind McAdory and Wetumpka.
    The storied Benjamin Russell wrestling program have 14 state titles to their credit, which ranks second in the AHSAA Record Book behind Vestavia Hills’ 15. The Wildcats won 11 in a row from 1959-1969, which is still the AHSAA state record.

Other wrestling highlights:
REED HILL, OXFORD:  Hill (29-0), who won the AHSAA Class 6A state title at 152 pounds last year with a 59-3 record, led the Yellow Jackets to the Calhoun County Wrestling Tourney championship with a pin over Alexandria senior Connor Norris (23-12) in the 160-pound finals. Oxford finished with 226 points and the Valley Cubs finished second with 220. Sophomore Jaden New (32-0) led Alexandria’s effort with a 10-4 decision over Oxford junior Chase Hicks (24-5) in the 138-pound finals. New was 66-2 en route to winning the 132-pound state champion in Class 1A/5A last season
SAM WILLOUGHBY, VESTAVIA HILLS: The senior led the Rebels to the title of the Scott Rohrer Invitational at Hoover last week with a 7-4 decision over Benjamin Russell’s Hezekiah Hunter (38-5) in the finals of the 170-pound weight class. Willoughby (26-4), who finished third at 160 pounds at the 2019 AHSAA Class 7A State Championships, helped Vestavia Hills total 1,142 points in what has annually become one of the largest and most competitive wrestling tournaments annually in the AHSAA.
PETER HENDERSON, McADORY: The junior improved to 46-0 with a 5-3 decision over Zach Flurry of Vestavia Hills in the 106-pound finals of the Scott Rohrer Invitational at Hoover.
MAXWELL KAUFFMAN, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: The senior improved to 41-0 with a 10-2 major decision win over Canon Hunt of Catholic in the 145-pound finals at Hoover. He was 51-5 last season and finished as 132-pound state runner-up in Class 7A for the Red Devils.
DYLAN PEARSON, AUBURN: The junior (24-0) remained unbeaten with a win over Carter Gill of Vestavia Hills, who was injured at 0:59 in the 182-pound championship match at Hoover. Pearson, who was 33-0 last season, is the defending Class 7A state champion at 182 pounds. He had a winning streak of 57 straight wins following the battle with Gill.  He has compiled a 93-6 record over the last three years with one state title and one third-place finish heading into the 2020 state playoffs.
MASON BLACKWELL, WETUMPKA: The Indians’ state champ at 170 pounds last year, Blackwell (36-2) moved up one weight class this year and helped the Indians win the Julian McPhillips Invitational at Saint James last weekend with four pins in the 182-pound weight division. Blackwell, 72-2 in 2018, won his first match in 19 seconds last week and downed Prattville Christian’s Kurt Reichert in the finals with a pin at 2:27.

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