Fire­birds bring home first state cham­pi­onship!

Sono­rav­ille stands atop team stand­ings thanks to strong ef­forts in Ma­con

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

The Sono­rav­ille Fire­birds have had a strong wrestling pro­gram for sev­eral years, but on Satur­day they reached a new mile­stone. For the first time in pro­gram his­tory, Sono­rav­ille can call them­selves the best team in the state in their clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The Fire­birds com­pleted a highly suc­cess­ful run at the Class AAA State Tra­di­tional Tour­na­ment in Ma­con on Satur­day with three in­di­vid­ual state cham­pi­ons, one run­ner-up, three fourth-place fin­ish­ers and one sixth-place fin­isher. All to­taled up, the ef­forts com­bined to give Sono­rav­ille 132 points as a team, which was enough for them to walk away with the Class AAA State Cham­pi­onship.

The Fire­birds fin­ished ahead of Bre­men (120) and North Hall (117), which was a mea­sure of re­venge as the Blue Devils was the team that kept Sono­rav­ille from an area du­als ti­tle in Jan­uary, and North Hall was the team that put the Fire­birds out of ti­tle con­tention at Class AAA State Du­als in Jan­uary.

Sono­rav­ille coach Randy Ste­ward said he had con­fi­dence that his team could be spe­cial go­ing all the way back to last sea­son when they fin­ished sec­ond at State Tra­di­tion­als, and once they clinched the ti­tle on Satur­day, there were a lot of emo­tions for him­self and the team.

“Go­ing back to our sec­ond-place fin­ish last sea­son, I felt like we had the re­turn­ing points to make a run at a cham­pi­onship,” said Ste­wart. “I would like to stress that I did my re­search be­fore tak­ing this po­si­tion be­fore last sea­son and knew that many things were in al­ready in place…There had been a strong youth club that many of our cur­rent kids par­tic­i­pated in, Greg Hunt has coached many of our kids since they were lit­tle, there had been a string of re­ally good coaches here over the years and there was strong par­ent sup­port and strong ad­min sup­port. All of the above equated to a strong tra­di­tion in wrestling. With my past ex­pe­ri­ence, I felt I could come in, tweak the cul­ture and put it all to­gether. I Feel like it’s been a good fit, and I’m ex­cited about where we all can take this pro­gram.

“The week­end was a roller coaster of emo­tions. For me per­son­ally it was a feel­ing of re­lief and a feel­ing of hap­pi­ness to see the ex­cite­ment on the kids’ faces. To see them sup­port each other through good and bad and ac­com­plish their goal is very spe­cial.”

Sono­rav­ille was led by a trio of in­di­vid­ual state champs, two of which who won their third straight ti­tle. Ju­niors Tyler Hunt and Trevor Bur­dick each went 3-0 in the 132 and 138-pound weight classes, re­spec­tively, to fin­ish atop the podium once again for their third first-place medal each.

Eli Knight, a fresh­man, also went 3-0 in Ma­con to win the state cham­pi­onship at 106.

John Knight wres­tled in the fi­nals as well in the 195pound weight class but lost a tough de­ci­sion to take run­ner-up hon­ors.

Hec­tor Ar­bos (113), Allen Stone ( 120) and Char­lie Brown (182) each fin­ished fourth in their weight classes as they reached the con­so­la­tion bracket fi­nals, and Jayce Der­ry­berry (126) earned a sixth-place fin­ish.

“Each of the eight qual­i­fiers com­peted hard and con­trib­uted to the team ef­fort,” said Ste­ward. “All won at least a match and scored team points. Three of the eight were there for the first time and were wrestling on Satur­day. That is a good thing and builds ex­pe­ri­ence for the fu­ture. I think many would agree that it was a strong per­for­mance. I’m very proud of the four fi­nal­ists. Eli Knight avenged all three of his losses this year, and he avenged the last one at a key time in the fi­nals. To lose to a kid 11-1 about three weeks ago and come back and beat the kid in the State fi­nals says a lot about his char­ac­ter.

Pho­tos by SU­SAN STONE / Sono­rav­ille Wrestling

( Sono­rav­ille wrestlers and coaches pose for a pic­ture with their Class AAA State Cham­pi­onship Tro­phy on Satur­day in Ma­con. ( Sono­rav­ille in­di­vid­ual state champs (from left) Tyler Hunt, Eli Knight and Trevor Bur­dick pose for a photo with the tro­phy.

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