Four Tigers qualify for state meet

Published 7:00 pm Monday, February 14, 2011

Dylan Jackson, Matt Thomas, Colby Bernier and Caleb Mims all qualified for the state wrestling meet.

Chilton County High School’s presence at the state wrestling meet continues to grow.

Four Tigers qualified for the event at the Class 5A, Section 1 tournament on Feb. 11 and 12, doubling the number that went last season.

Three of the qualifiers were expected, as they went into the sectional seeded in the top four and needing only to finish in the top four to qualify for state. Caleb Mims, meanwhile, went 4-1 to finish fourth in the sectional despite coming in unseeded.

Mims competed at the state meet in 2008, and earning a surprise berth is a nice conclusion to his career that included an up-and-down senior season.

“He’s really talented,” Coach Kess Cottingham said about the 145-pounder. “He showed a lot of good, positive things this year but hadn’t really put it all together. He got focused for that tournament.”

Two fellow seniors—189-pound Dylan Jackson and 160-pound Colby Bernier and—will be making return trips to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

Jackson went 3-1 to improve his record to a team-best 37-5.

Bernier has also lost only five matches this season but hasn’t won as many (20) because he missed a month of action because of surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

He even defeated the opponent who knocked him out of last year’s state tournament, Mortimer Jordan’s Jacob Howse.

“Colby really wrestled well,” Cottingham said.

CCHS’s fourth qualifier is heavyweight Matt Thomas, a senior wrestling for the first time.

“That is very uncommon. Usually, first-year wrestlers, it’s tough to qualify,” Cottingham said.

Making Thomas’ season even more remarkable is that he is relatively small for the weight classification—he weighs about 225 pounds but can wrestle opponents weighing closer to 300 pounds than 200.

For example, he defeated two wrestlers at the sectional meet that weigh about 260 pounds each.

“Matt has a natural feel for it,” Cottingham said. “He just kind of understands it. He picked it up real quick.”

The four put together make up Chilton’s most impressive state meet contingent.

“I was really proud of them,” Cottingham said. “They put in a lot of hard work this year.”

Class 5A wrestlers will weigh in at 8 a.m. on Friday, and wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m. Wrestlers who win twice on Friday would report back at 8 a.m. on Saturday.