Thompson repeated as state wrestling champions last weekend by topping Hoover and Vestavia Hills at Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
It was not the weekend Vestavia Hills’ wrestlers had hoped for.
The Rebels did manage to claim one weight class; senior Pete Dazzio topped Thompson’s Ashunti Perry in the 170-pound championship by a 9-4 decision. Freshman Ryan Summerlin was runner-up in the 106-pound championship, dropping a 5-1 decision to Zaderian Toney of Bob Jones.
“Things went pretty well for some guys in the first round,” said Vestavia Hills senior Douglas Thompson. “We had a couple of people eliminated in the second round that we didn’t think we were going to get eliminated. I was eliminated in the third round.
“It was a bad weekend, but it brought us together as a senior class. We stuck together and helped each other through it. We supported those guys that had a great weekend. We had three or four guys win their consolation finals matches, too.”
Still an impressive outing, the Rebels have a storied history in the sport. And none of the athletes tasked with moving that legacy forward were satisfied with third place.
“My freshman year was coach (Steve) Gaydosh’s last year, and he had 13 state titles,” Thompson said. “That’s the norm for Vestavia wrestling; bring home the blue map. My sophomore year we got it done. My junior year, we fell short and we fell short this year as well. We wanted to end with a bang and it just didn’t happen. We all kind of expect that from each other, the best.”
Those two championships that Thompson and his senior class were part of bridged the transition from Gaydosh to current head coach Tee Adams. The future of the program will be left in good hands with guys like Summerlin competing at a such a high level at a young age.
“We told (the underclassmen) to work hard and push through the hurt, but we also told them how to be successful in life and how to pick each other up when they fall down,” Thompson said. “I think they saw that first hand when this didn’t go the way we wanted it to. I think they’ll carry on with that and get closer as a team the way that we did.”
Thompson hasn’t yet decided which direction he will head upon departing Vestavia Hills. He has an opportunity as a preferred walk-on at Samford and at Troy. He spent his high school years as a center and defensive tackle for Buddy Anderson’s team.
— Blake Ells