Eagles showcase talent in Army Duals win

COVINGTON - The Eastside Eagles wrestling program lived up to its No. 3 ranking by winning the U.S. Army Duals on Saturday at Hiram.

The Eastside grapplers started the event with a 60-10 win over Heritage before beating East Coweta (67-12) and Northside-Columbus (73-6) to reach the semifinals.

Eastside knocked out host school Hiram 44-21 then won the tournament with a 43-26 victory over Class AAA No. 2-ranked Cass.

"Everyone keeps telling me don't peak too early, but that's hard for me to identify when I should hold them back," Eastside head coach Brandon Blakeman said. "I just let them do their thing. Watching Brandon Cole wrestle, on the day he had four techs and one pin. One of his techs was in the first period; it was effortless. It was like he wasn't even sweating or trying. He just went out there and did his thing."

Joining Cole, who wrestles in the 130-pound weight class, in the rank of undefeated at Hiram were last year's state champion Joel Stafford (119), Trevor Bailey (135) and Cody Durden (103).

Ardest Carter (189), Tommy Williams (215) and Michael Green (125) were all 4-1.

"Tommy lost in overtime to a kid that was a legitimate 215, Tommy weighs about 190, and Ardest lost 5-4 to Jordan Dukes, who was a state champion and a state runner up the last two years. Jordan came up to me and said, 'Coach, your boy gave me everything I wanted,'" Blakeman said. "It could've gone either way. It was a great match to watch. They did real well."

The Eagles started their season Wednesday with wins over Hardaway (47-34) and Columbus (60-21).

Hardaway is ranked No. 3 in Class AAA.

The Eagles are back on the mats today at Class AAAA No. 1-ranked Stockbridge with Alexander and Fayette County.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.