The last team to join the tournament was the one that took home the biggest trophy.
Class 7A Baker, a last-minute replacement for Houston Academy, defeated 6A Stanhope Elmore 54-30 in the championship match to win the Julian McPhillips Invitational wrestling tournament at St. James on Saturday.
Baker went undefeated in the morning session, defeating Elmore County, Holtville and Stanhope Elmore. In the afternoon session, the Hornets defeated St. James to advance to the finals against the Mustangs for a second time.
Stanhope Elmore finished second in the tournament, defeating Holtville, Elmore County and W.S. Neal.
St. James finished third, defeating Catholic 48-24 and Prattville Christian 45-27 before losing to W.S. Neal 48-34. In the afternoon session, the Trojans lost to Baker 63-15.
Catholic defeated Prattville Christian 42-36 in another match featuring local teams. The tournament was changed this season from 20 teams to eight local teams because of COVID restrictions, with W.S. Neal and Baker as the only teams invited from outside the River Region. The tournament is normally a statewide attraction because of a bracket that highlights individual performances, but COVID restrictions permit just four teams in a gym at the same time, forcing organizers to limit competition to dual meets featuring the teams.
St. James senior Tennison Norton, competing in the 126-pound weight division, was named the tournament’s most valuable wrestler as he swept his competition, pinning three of the four wrestlers he faced despite competing at a higher weight division than his usual 120-pound division.
Norton improved to 25-1 with the victories.
The Trojans’ only other senior, Taylor Penney, improved to 23-1 with his performance in the heavyweight division.
St. James improved to 15-7 in dual meets this season.