By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
TRUSSVILLE — No one in the crowd at Bryant Bank on Saturday would be surprised if they found out that Huskies head coach Chris Pike had a bit of a history as a riverboat gambler. Pike’s gamble worked, and brought home the 7A Region 3 title.
Down 32-31 against defending state champion Vestavia Hills for the dual and tied 1-1 with time winding down in the final round of the last matchup of the day, Pike told Delvecchio “Deuce” Alston to let his opponent up after the pair were re-set after going out of bounds.
The strategic move gave Alston’s opponent, 2021 state runner-up Carson Farris, a 2-1 lead.
“That was my call,” Pike said afterward. “I told Duece to let him up because I was afraid he would ride the kid for a while, and then the kid would get up too late and Deuce wouldn’t have time to get time to get a takedown. So we let him up to put the match in our hands, on our feet.”
The ploy worked. Alston, who had outworked Farris for most of the match, was able to nail a two-point takedown to secure a 3-2 victory and give Hewitt-Trussville the 34-32 victory and the area crown.
“We have all the respect in the world for Vestavia, because they have a great team,” Pike said. “I’m very happy for our kids, because this was a major landmark for us … I’m proud of the kids. They worked hard, and they deserve it.”
Prior to this, Vestavia Hills had been ranked No. 1 in the state, while Thompson was ranked No. 2. It was the first time this senior class of wrestlers has beaten Vestavia.
“We’ve been wrestling for Hewitt since eighth grade and we’ve never beaten Vestavia,” Logan Reeves said afterward. “Deuce did that facing a guy who was state runner-up last year.”
The fact that Alston, an eighth grader, secured the victory for the Huskies was huge, Pike said.
“He’s going to be a great wrestler for us,” Pike said. “A tremendous effort today.”
The Huskies jumped out to a 13-0 lead after Thomas Schaeffer won the first match by pinfall, coming from behind to pin Andrew Sullivan with only 13 seconds left in the match to give Hewitt-Trussville an early 6-0 advantage.
After that, Logan Reaves dominated Grant Taylor 12-1 to earn four points for the Huskies, and Lucas Reaves beat Clay Johnston to make it 13-0 for the Huskies.
Vestavia would not go quietly. The Rebels’ Harris Mitchell pinned Andrew Shelton to make it 13-6, but the Huskies’ Luke Golden pulled a very late reversal in the third period to score a 6-5 victory over William Douglass to make it 16-6, Hewitt-Trussville.
Vestavia’s John Edwards pinned Cam Cantwell to add six for the Rebels, making it 16-12 with the Huskies on top.
Hunter Jones was dominant in his matchup against the Rebels’ Riggs Manown, and never appeared to be seriously challenged. His major victory gave Hewitt-Trussville a 21-12 edge.
Things began to unravel a bit after that for Hewitt, as Chris Hawkins was pinned by Andrew Sykes, and then the Rebels took the lead in the match when Mitch Taylor pinned Colby Little. It was 24-21 for Vestavia.
Clark Box then dropped a decision to Stone Phillips, in the middle of a five-match win streak for Vestavia. However, they could never quite find the knockout blow, and by the time Dalton Zimmerman took the mat for the Huskies against Zach Flurry, Hewitt-Trussville was still within striking distance.
Zimmerman pinned Flurry to bring the Huskies within one point of the defending state champion Rebels, 32-31. That’s when Alston stepped on the mat to take on Farris.
After a scoreless first period, Alston scored an escape to go up a point, 1-0, and that looked at first like it might be enough. But in the third, Farris scored his own escape to tie it 1-1. That’s when Pike made the call to let Farris stand up and give Vestavia a 2-1 lead in the final match of the afternoon. It was a gutsy call, and one that bore fruit when Alston scored a two-point takedown to secure the victory for Hewitt-Trussville.