Ethan Headley

The first day of the 2019 Indians Invitational did not go well for the Holtville wrestling team. The Bulldogs already had a limited number of wrestlers but even the ones competing struggled to find a rhythm on the mats.

Ethan Headley helped turned things around for the Bulldogs during Day 2 of the event. After being pinned twice in his first three matches, Headley turned a corner to start Saturday’s competition with a win over Cole Formby of Saint James before finishing off the day with a win over Stanhope Elmore’s Jake Taunton to earn fifth place at 140 pounds. Headley is the Elmore County Player of the Week.

“You just have to have a short memory,” Holtville coach Phillip Smart said. “You can’t dwell on losses in this sport. You have to pick something out that you want to work on and improve on it.”

During his first three matches of the tournament, Headley did not make it to third period in both losses, being pinned twice in the first three minutes of the match. His lone win on the first day was a pin of Stanhope Elmore’s Chris McManis after just 61 seconds so Headley had yet to face a full match. In fact, Headley had not seen a decision since the season’s opening match against Shelby County.

That changed on Day 2 when Headley needed to fight off some tough competition for the full six minutes before earning victories. He started the day with a 7-5 decision over Formby to earn a spot in the fifth-place match.

“He wrestled the full time,” Smart said. “He didn’t quit and didn’t make any foolish mistakes in the early rounds like he did (Friday). He wrestled until the whistle.”

Taunton, who was a state qualifier last season, won two matches in pool play and Smart said he was probably the favorite for the match. With less than a minute on the clock, Headley looked to the scoreboard and saw he was trailing 9-6 so he needed to get aggressive.

Headley regained control and earned two points for the reversal before taking the lead right at the buzzer with two near-fall points on the final move of the match.

“I was actually yelling at him to cut him so he could try to get a takedown to tie it up and go into overtime,” Smart said. “If you looked at the statistics of the situation, the chances of what happened actually happening was definitely low. He had him in a certain way and he was confident and sometimes that’s how it is.”

Headley’s strategy worked out well, finishing the tournament on a positive note and ending the day as Holtville’s highest place winner. Headley improved his season record to 10-3 as he leads the Bulldogs in most individual wins.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.