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Haynes with THS assistant coach Rod Gaddy

Haynes a state champ

By Michael Butler

Thousands of hours of preparation and dedication have paid off. Zak Haynes is a state champion.

Haynes won the Class 5A 126-pound division on Saturday at the AHSAA State Championships at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.

"Last year I had a pretty rough knee injury," Haynes said. "This year I came back and prayed every day for God to keep every one of us healthy. He did that for the most part. I had high hopes in my last year. Once I got there I felt like it was meant to be."

Haynes was banged up for a portion of his senior season, but overcame the setback to reach the pinnacle as a wrestler.

"I kind of got down on myself a little bit. I pushed through it, rehabbed and got my shoulder right. At Huntsville I was good to go. It was rock-n-roll time."

Haynes has wrestled with the high school team since being a seventh grader. The five-time placer at the state championships admits that being a seasoned senior helped in winning the gold medal.

"Every year you realize time is ticking. When you get older you tend to get better. The crowd doesn't matter. You've got the support in the stands, but you've got to focus on your opponent and toe the line."

The high finish at state previously was third for Haynes, so this was his first time in a title match.

"It was tough to go to sleep. I was more excited than I was nervous."

Haynes (43-3) beat Hayden's Evan Phillips (52-4) in a 7-4 decision.

Haynes speaking with Phillip Nelson and Mark Bell at Senior Night during Tallassee Times TV's webcast on YouTube

"I felt good about it once I got up 7-0. I should've kept trying to score, but I was really just trying to ride it out."

THS head coach John Mask spoke about his co-captain in his final match.

"They went out of bounds with 20 seconds left and Zak smiled at us and the Tallassee fans. We knew he had it under control. Zak had the recipe. We weren't cocky, but confident."

Haynes closes out his career with a 227-24 record.

"It's thousands of hours of mat time, running, technique and diet. People don't know what it takes to be a state champion. Words can't describe it. It felt like a monkey off my back to bring it back to Tallassee. I'm going to miss that feeling. I'll be chasing that feeling for the rest of my life. It was awesome."

Tallassee had a 12-year string of producing individual state champions that had been put on hold for the last two years until Saturday.

The Tigers other five state representatives will be back next season; Land Bell (106), Brendan Emfinger (113), Christian McCary (132) John Burnham (138), Mason Bell (152) and Jake Debardelaben (160). McCary, an eighth grader, placed fifth at the VBCC.

"We've got some mighty fine young men," Mask said of the returning class. "We were very young. The sky is the limit. I'm tremendously proud of all the kids and their hard work."

Arab was the Class 1A-5A state champion. Jasper was second, followed by Ranburne. Tallassee was 12th out of 49 teams represented.

Photos by Mark Bell

 

 

THS Wrestling
State Placers
1993-2020

 

 

Weight

Place

Name

Grade

Class

1993

 

 

 

 

275

4

Brandon Boyd

12

1A-4A

1996

 

 

 

 

160

2

Joel Walker

11

1A-4A

1997

 

 

 

 

103

3

Luke Rigsby

 

1A-4A

119

3

Rodney Johnson

 

1A-4A

130

1

Brian Freeman

12

1A-4A

140

1

Brandon Reddon

11

1A-4A

145

4

Troy Mann

 

1A-4A

152

3

Tim Mann

 

1A-4A

160

2

Joel Walker

12

1A-4A

189

3

Justin Johns

12

1A-4A

215

4

Daniel Hutchenson

 

1A-4A

1998

 

 

 

 

112

3

Jerome Smith

 

1A-4A

119

3

Luke Rigsby

 

1A-4A

130

4

Brandon Atkins

 

1A-4A

152

3

Brandon Redden

12

1A-4A

1999

 

 

 

 

103

4

Brad Jones

 

1A-4A

112

4

Anthony Bentley

11

1A-4A

119

2

Jerome Smith

 

1A-4A

125

2

Luke Rigsby

 

1A-4A

215

4

Jared Blair

12

1A-4A

275

3

Will Curlee

12

1A-4A

2000

 

 

 

 

119

4

Anthony Bentley

12

1A-4A

130

2

Brandon Rigsby

10

1A-4A

140

2

Jerome Smith

11

1A-4A

189

3

Jamie Blakey

11

1A-4A

275

3

Eric Cagle

10

1A-4A

2001

 

 

 

 

130

4

Brad Jones

11

1A-4A

135

1

Brandon Rigsby

11

1A-4A

140

1

Justin Harris

9

1A-4A

171

2

Brandon Cobb

12

1A-4A

215

2

Jamie Blakley

12

1A-4A

275

1

Eric Cagle

11

1A-4A

2002

 

 

 

 

103

4

Josh Rigsby

 

1A-4A

125

3

Jeremy Balentine

11

1A-4A

130

2

Brad Jones

 

1A-4A

135

4

Jason Phillips

 

1A-4A

145

1

Justin Harris

10

1A-4A

152

4

Robert Peppers

 

1A-4A

275

1

Eric Cagle

12

1A-4A

2003

 

 

 

 

112

2

Josh Rigsby

 

1A-4A

119

1

Jonathan Webb

 

1A-4A

130

2

Jeremy Balentine

12

1A-4A

145

2

Justin Harris

11

1A-4A

145

4

Nick Smith

 

1A-4A

275

3

Buck Buckhannon

 

1A-4A

2004

 

 

 

 

119

1

Jonathan Webb

 

1A-4A

125

4

Josh Rigsby

 

1A-4A

160

1

Mack Farrow

12

1A-4A

171

2

Justin Harrow

12

1A-4A

2006

 

 

 

 

103

4

Chris Adams

7

1A-4A

135

2

Josh Rigsby

 

1A-4A

160

1

Jonathan Haynes

10

1A-4A

171

4

Travis Krimmell

 

1A-4A

189

2

Nick Taunton

 

1A-4A

2007

 

 

 

 

112

3

Dave Shirley

11

1A-4A

160

3

Jonathan Haynes

11

1A-4A

2008

 

 

 

 

119

3

Dave Shirley

12

1A-4A

189

4

Jonathan Haynes

12

1A-4A

215

4

Sharod Pearson

11

1A-4A

2009

 

 

 

 

112

4

Pierce Gowen

9

5A

125

4

Joel Langley

9

5A

145

3

Chris Adams

10

5A

215

1

Sharod Person

12

5A

285

1

John Stuckey

11

5A

2010

 

 

 

 

103

4

Josh Epperson

8

5A

119

2

Pierce Gowan

10

5A

130

2

Rhys Murphy

11

5A

135

3

Josh Highland

10

5A

145

1

Chris Adams

11

5A

189

2

Tyler Lynn

11

5A

215

3

Lucas Self

11

5A

285

1

T.C. Robinson

11

5A

2011

 

 

 

 

112

3

Josh Epperson

9

5A

125

3

Pierce Gowan

11

5A

140

3

Rhys Murphy

12

5A

145

2

Josh Highland

11

5A

160

1

Chris Adams

12

5A

189

3

Tyler Lynn

12

5A

215

3

Lucas Self

12

5A

285

1

T.C. Robinson

12

5A

2012

 

 

 

 

106

2

Kennon Reese

9

5A

120

1

Josh Epperson

10

5A

285

2

Jesse Rowlen

11

5A

2013

 

 

 

 

120

2

Kennon Reese

10

1A-4A

126

1

Josh Epperson

11

1A-4A

152

3

B.J. Thomas

11

1A-4A

182

3

Drew Baker

11

1A-4A

285

1

Jesse Rowlen

12

1A-4A

2014

 

 

 

 

113

3

Turner, Steven

10

1A-4A

126

1

Kennon Reese

11

1A-4A

132

1

Josh Epperson

12

1A-4A

152

1

D.J. Rivers

12

1A-4A

160

1

B.J. Thomas

12

1A-4A

182

1

Drew Baker

12

1A-4A

195

1

Davontae McKenzie

12

1A-4A

2015

 

 

 

 

132

1

Kennon Reese

12

1A-5A

2016

 

 

 

 

106

4

Zak Haynes

8

1A-5A

113

4

Jonovan Miller

9

1A-5A

120

4

Bruin Hathcock

8

1A-5A

126

4

Jordan Price

11

1A-5A

182

4

Jeremy Noah

12

1A-5A

195

2

Andy Baker

9

1A-5A

285

1

Jake Baker

11

1A-5A

2017

 

 

 

 

113

3

Zak Haynes

9

1A-5A

132

5

Price, Jordan

12

1A-5A

195

3

Andy Baker

10

1A-5A

285

1

Jake Baker

12

1A-5A

2018

 

 

 

 

126

3

Zak Haynes

10

1A-5A

195

2

Andy Baker

11

1A-5A

2019

 

 

 

 

132

4

Zak Haynes

11

1A-5A

182

2

Andy Baker

12

1A-5A

2020

 

 

 

 

126

1

Zak Haynes

12

1A-5A

Tallassee High School Individual Champions

1997 (4A) - Brian Freeman, Brandon Redden
2001 (4A) - Justin Harris, Eric Cagle, Brandon Rigsby
2002 (4A) - Eric Cagle, Justin Harris
2003 (4A) - Jonathan Webb
2004 (4A) - Jonathan Webb, Mack Farrow
2006 (4A) - Jonathan Haynes
2009 (5A) - Sharrod Person, John Stuckey
2010 (5A) - Chris Adams, T. C. Robinson
2011 (5A) - Chris Adams, T. C. Robinson
2012 (5A) - Josh Epperson
2013 (4A) - Josh Epperson, Jesse Rowlen
2014 (4A) - Kennon Reese, Josh Epperson, D. J. Rivers, B. J. Thomas, Drew Baker, Davontae McKenzie
2015 (5A) - Kennon Reese
2016 (5A) - Jake Baker
2017 (5A) - Jake Baker
2020 (5A) - Zak Haynes