Jeff Davis’ Jesse Herron came off the mat and nearly fell down, obviously in discomfort if not outright pain, as assistant coaches served as crutches to keep the wrestler upright.
But at the same time Herron, grimacing because of an anterior cruciate knee ligament he strained in an earlier tournament, felt euphoric. That’s what a tense, 2-1 upset of a No. 1 seed in the 182-pound quarterfinals will create at the state wrestling tournament.
The Class 6A portion of the event began Thursday at the Von Braun Center.
Herron (25-10) opened the day with a pin of Clay-Chalkville’s Clay Hughes at the 4:36 mark.
His second match was harder against Grissom’s Mark Johnson, a top-seed to Herron’s No. 4. Herron took a 2-0 lead into the third period, when Johnson trimmed his deficit to 2-1. Herron then held on for the 2-1 victory.
Herron, after he’d found a comfortable place to lean against a wall and stretch out his legs, explained his strategy.
“Get him real tired,” said Herron as a trainer taped a bag of ice to his knee. “I wanted to get him tired in the third and take him down.”
He didn’t take down Johnson, but he didn’t allow him much room to breathe, either.
“If I let up,” Herron said, “he was going to win.”
Herron will take on Spain Park’s Kevin McClure (43-5) in the semifinals. The winner takes on either Tuscaloosa County’s Christian Stewart or Hewitt-Trussville’s Marcus Elkins in Saturday’s final.
Wetumpka’s mixed results: Wetumpka qualified six wrestlers for this year’s state tournament after bringing just three to the Rocket City a year ago.
The results were mixed after the first day.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Indians coach Jeff Glass said. “We doubled how many we qualified last year, but while that gives you that many more opportunities to do well, it also gives you more opportunities to do bad.”
Jokes aside, Glass was thrilled the Warriors were getting state experience. Of the six wrestlers he brought, three are freshmen, one is a sophomore and two are juniors.
The sophomore, 152-pounder Khaliq Jones, qualified for the championship semifinals. He defeated Lee-Huntsville’s Jamal James in a 7-3 decision in the first round, then took a 5-4 decision over Hewitt-Trussville’s Fred Denson.
The final is Saturday.
Longhshot title hopes: While highly unlikely, if not mathematically impossible, if Prattville found a way to climb to the top of the 6A standings by the end of Saturday’s final round, it would be a rarity for Montgomery-area programs not named Robert E. Lee.
Since 1984, when the Generals won a state championship, nobody outside of two-time defending champion Thompson, Hoover, Vestavia Hills or Grissom has won the title except for Lee again in 1992.
Lee has five overall titles dating back to 1957 while Prattville can count one as Autauga Academy in 1970.