Prattville’s Caden McWhirter had little trouble advancing to the Class 6A state wrestling tournament semifinals Thursday. But the sophomore, who is competing in the 138-pound division in the three-day event at the Von Braun Center, gave his performance an average rating.
Especially following a 7-0 decision over Oak Mountain’s Jared Godfrey in the second round of the championship bracket.
“I thought I wrestled OK,” McWhirter said after improving to 57-2. “I kind of let the guy lay there in the second match. He kind of stalled. I’ve got to score more than that.”
In contrast to the second match, the top-seeded McWhirter pinned Sparkman’s Brad Wolfe 1:08 into their first-round match.
Meanwhile, two-time defending state champion Thompson didn’t miss a beat in its bid for a three-peat and took the lead after the first day of competition.
The Warriors enter the second day — when championship semifinals will be determined and the consolations move into Round 2, quarterfinals and semifinals — with 821/2 points to pace the 32-team field. They are followed by Vestavia Hills (62 points), Hewitt-Trussville (51), Smiths Station (50) and Prattville (48).
Jeff Davis is 14th (24), Wetumpka 18th (191/2, Carver 21st (15) and Stanhope-Elmore 23rd (141/2).
The Class 1A-4A and 5A tournaments begin today.
Finals for all classes are Saturday.
One surprise in the 6A tournament is Jeff Davis. The Volunteers, which haven’t fielded a full team and were without a full-time coach in recent seasons, qualified seven wrestlers.
Jesse Herron (182) is the lone Vol who qualified for the championship semifinals, but coach Quinton Turner called the day a success.
“All seven are still in it,” he said. “We’ve got the one in the championship bracket, but the other six are still alive in the consolations. We’ve never brought this many wrestlers. They’re all getting state experience.”
Prattville entered the state tournament on the heels of its first sectional championship since 2009.
The Lions qualified 10 wrestlers — nine wrestled since Garrett Wilson sat out for a weekend debate competition — for state despite a roster featuring just two seniors in Chad Sibley and Wilson.
Sibley lost a 6-4 decision to Grissom’s David Baumohl in the opener, then pinned Chelsea’s Michael Waller at 2:08 of a consolation match.
The three other Lions advancing to the championship semifinals are junior Brandon Cunningham (106), sophomore Camden Funkenhouser (113) and freshman Robbey Killough (120).
“It’s going pretty good,” Prattville coach Trent Miller said. “We should have had five in the semifinals, I thought.”
The Lion he was talking about was junior Nicholas Baker (126). He lost his quarterfinal match 15-13 in overtime to Tuscaloosa County’s Harrison Turner.
Baker falls to the second round of the consolation bracket.
While the Lions may not have enough points to be had to make up enough spots to catch the leaders atop the standings, they’re laying the framework for what McWhirter sees as a bright future.
“We’re doing good,” he said. “We’re really kind of young. I think we’ll be very good the next few years.”
While Prattville loses Sibley and Wilson, it’s set to return a freshman, three sophomores and four juniors among the state qualifiers.