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ACA wrestlers earn spot in state tournament


TUSCALOOSA | Former state champion Ty Barnett and American Christian Academy teammates Shawn Blackburn and Stevie Jones have qualified for the AHSAA wrestling tournament.

Barnett, Blackburn and Jones begin wrestling today in the Class 1A-4A meet at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

"Last year both Stevie and Shawn were a round away from placing in the top four, and they will have a very good chance to place in the top four or win it this year as long as they focus on each match individually," ACA coach E.J. Love said. "If they maximize their opportunity they all have a chance to finish in the top two.

"We have competed against 6A schools, against teams from all around the Southeast. These guys have done extremely well, and we just hope to carry that over to this weekend. They’ve put in the work, and now I want them to see the rewards."

Barnett, a senior, was a freshman when he won his state championship in the 119-pound class in 2010. Competing this year at 120 opunds, Barnett won a sectional championship when the Patriots competed last week in Tallassee.

"There are three aspects of wrestling — on your feet, on the bottom and on top," Love said. "Ty is very skilled on his feet. As far the whole state, 1A through 6A, he can compete with anybody on his feet. He is a very technical wrestler."

Blackburn, a senior, qualified by winning in the 182-pound class. Love said Blackburn was a running back and linebacker for the ACA football team.

"Shawn has a very good chance of winning," Love said. "As with Ty, he has beat everyone in his weight class. It’s just going to be about putting it together this weekend, wrestling smart in every match. Shawn has strength, he’s pretty technical and he is extremely quick. He is a very focused young man. When he goes out there, you can tell the force he exudes on his opponent.

"At the sectional tournament Shawn did not give up a take-down, so he is a very solid, all-around wrestler."

Jones, a senior, was third in the sectional in the 152-pound category. Love said Jones was a linebacker for the football team.

"Stevie’s strengths are his mental toughness and his technique," Love said. "He is very skilled in the top position. Actually, in his weight class 1A through 4A is as tough as that weight class in 5A or 6A. I know that he has beat a boy who won one of the 6A sectionals.

"It’s going to be more about him putting it all together in the matches."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.