This article stating that Brady Campbell was the first athlete in Opelika High School history to win a 7A state championship title was published on Feb. 23, 2023. While he was the first male athlete to win such, it was brought to our attention that Sarah Bush, pictured below, was the first athlete to win that title when she won the state championship in swimming in December. She won the 50- yard freestyle race as a 6A-7A competitor.
We apologize for not recognizing Bush’s accomplishments and for any embarrassment or inconvenience our error may have caused. We applaud all of our local athletes and support their endeavors.
BY WIL CREWS
Opelika High School sophomore wrestler Brady Campbell will go down in the history books as the first person (or team) affiliated with the Bulldogs to capture a class 7A state title.
“I knew I put in the work to win, so that was my hope,” Brady said of winning state. “It means a lot. All the support everybody has ever given me, all the hard work paid off. I’m still going to keep working.”
Claiming that he had championship expectations coming into the meet, Brady, wrestling at 145 pounds, was crowned state champion Saturday, Feb. 18, in Huntsville.
It’s not that Opelika has never had a state champion wrestler before, but what makes this accomplishment such a unique feat is that 2022-23 is the first year that Opelika has competed (in all sports) in the 7A (highest) division of Alabama high school sports.
Brady defeated Vestavia Hills’s Andrew Sullivan by way of pin to capture the championship. Before that, he defeated Jacob Handy of Grissom High School in the quarterfinals and Broc Metcalf of Hoover in the semifinals. When the referee raised Brady’s arm in a sign of victory, the teenager immediately looked to those who had come to support him.
“I looked up at the stands where the whole Opelika crew was standing, up at my mom — I pointed up at them,” Brady said. “And then as soon as I ran off the mat I hugged my Dad, hugged coach Brown and my teammates were there too.”
Brady said he has been wrestling for over a decade, but he still needs influences like head wrestling coach Tucker Brown to help guide him along the way.
“Wrestling with coach Brown, he always be getting on to me,” Brady said. “But it’s also about the good stuff too. So, he keeps us disciplined and hard working.”
One other OHS wrestler joined Brady in advancing to the final day of competition at the state meet. Brady’s practice partner, junior Brayden Wilson, placed fifth overall in the 132-pound category. Brayden is relatively new to the sport, but still had high hopes entering the meet.
“Not really,” Brayden said on if he was happy with his performance. “It was alright but I was expecting better. Always going into it you want to win.”
According to Brady, Brayden and he “are real tight.” And Brayden attributes some of his success to he and Brady’s competitive friendship.
“It makes you better that’s for sure,” Brady said about practicing against a now state champion. “This is my first year doing it and I have seen huge improvements.”
Ultimately, when looking back on his championship-winning weekend and his wrestling journey overall, Brady picked what he thought separates him from others.
“I think it’s my mental toughness,” he said. “Just being to go the extra mile and past my limit.”
Similarly, Brayden stressed the importance of keeping your head in wrestling matches.
“In wrestling, mental toughness is a big thing,” he said.
Brown, in his first year with OHS, has seen both wrestlers’ mental toughness first hand. He said he was not surprised by the success both enjoyed and applauded both athletes’ leadership, and commitment.
“Brady and Brayden are used a lot of times in practice as examples,” he said. “You got a bunch of kids that want to goof off and honestly at the end of the day sometimes don’t understand what it takes to win as a group and individually. When you get a couple guys that know how to do it … these guys stay focused the whole time, they drill the most and they work the hardest.
“It shows in how they worked and developed. It came to fruition … they worked hard and knew what it took … so they ended up being the ones on the podium at the end of the tournament.