Bulldogs pin third-place in tourney

COVINGTON - Rockdale's 103-pounder Jake Morris and Heritage's 112-pounder Billy Abrahamsen were tournament champions from the area going a perfect 5-0 in the South Metro Tournament at Henry County High School held Friday and Saturday.

As a result of Morris' first-place finish and six other placers, the Bulldogs were able to win third place overall.

Eastside finished in fourth place with seven placers followed by Alcovy with four placers (9th) and Newton who came in the top 15 with one placer.

Union Grove won the tournament with 290.5 points followed by Henry County (211.5), Rockdale (211) and Eastside (195).

"I'm proud of our team's performance this weekend. They wrestled with a lot of heart and determination. It is exciting to see the team wrestle this well," Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove said.

"But to miss being in second place by one-half point you start replaying matches in your head where we let opportunities go where we could have scored bonus points. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy as heck with our results, but we need better awareness of match control."

In the 103 championship match,

Morris beat the Class AA No. 1 ranked wrestler, Henry County's Brett Yarbrough, by a 16-13 margin.

In what was voted by the coaches the best finals match of the tournament, Rockdale's Luis Ponce (130) fought hard but fell short losing 5-0 to 125-pound, Class AAAAA No. 2 ranked Union Grove's Ryan DeVita.

Kafuba Donzon (152) finished third followed by fourth-place finishers Hylan Taylor (119), Jose Robledo (125) and Muhamad Bois (145).

Also placing was Grady Jarrett (285) who finished fifth in his weight class.

With three of their starters out and their fourth-place finish, Eastside's wrestling team showed that they could be one of the top in Class AAA.

Eastside's top wrestlers of the tournament were Joel Stafford (125) and Tommy Williams (189).

Stafford and Williams were runner-ups in their weight class losing in the championship round.

Both of their opponents are ranked No. 2 in the state in their weight division.

Danny Gatt (112), Dalton Bragg (135) and Jonathan Palmer (160) came in third with freshmen Sage Allen (140) and Brandon Gatt (103) coming in fourth and fifth.

"I feel like the boys did an outstanding job. A lot of newer varsity members got a good idea of where they stand in terms of being competitive on the varsity level," Eastside coach Brandon Blakeman said. "They also were able to see what areas in their wrestling need improvement.

"I learned that this team has a lot of fortitude to not give up. In a double elimination tournament it is very easy for some guys to lose intensity or desire after suffering their first loss. However, a lot of the boys who suffered an early loss came back even more hungry for an opportunity to place in the tournament. I think that is a good sign of how they will handle themselves come state tournament time."

Alcovy's Adam Pollard was also a runner-up at 135 with Jon Seymore (103) and Travis Knight (140) coming in fourth.

Finishing sixth overall at 160 for the Tigers was Malachi Outlaw.

Newton's only placer was Hosea Hines at 189.

"We made a lot of mistakes that caused us matches throughout our lineup. I do not feel that our guys were ready for the tournament and I will take the blame for that," Newton coach Wes Cooper said.

"Brandon Lawson and Aaron Reynolds were both a match away from placing. I feel that they should have both been in the medal rounds, but once again mistakes killed us."

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