Bulldog coronation
Rockdale ends Heritage's 3-year title run

CONYERS - After a three-year stay at Heritage, the Conyers Cup has moved back to Rockdale County High School.

The Bulldogs, Patriots and Seminoles all hit the wrestling mats Saturday with aspirations of attaining the coveted Conyers Cup, but it was Rockdale that hoisted it high after sweeping the competition.

The Bulldogs began the day with a 61-9 win over Salem. After the Patriots bested the Seminoles 63-14, the Bulldogs and Patriots squared off in the all-important rubber match.

Starting at 112 pounds, Heritage's Cody Schubert put his team up early with a win over Jake Morris. The Patriots increased their lead when Steven Crawley (119) topped Eris Banks.

But the Bulldogs bounced back with two consecutive pins. Rockdale's Luis Ponce (125) pinned Raheem Williams and Joseph Richardson (135) pinned Eric Lauritsen.

After Heritage's Wade Powell collected a forfeit, Rockdale rolled off three more wins.

John Collins (140) pinned Alfonzo Cortez, Ahmed Burton (145) won a decision over Cameron Macke and Muhammad Bois (152) pinned David Plunkett.

Heritage's John Wigington brought his team back with a hard-fought decision over Kafuba Donzon at 160, but the Bulldogs churned out two consecutive pins and began to pull away.

Jimmy Brown pinned Nathan Kelley at 171 and Rashad Ferrell pinned Abraham Williams at 189.

The Patriots triumphed in the heavyweights as Benjamin Cheban won a decision over Michael Taylor at 215 and Travis Wynne collected a forfeit at 285.

The final match at 103 put the icing on the cake for the Bulldogs as Keyonte Watkins pinned Chad Bone, giving Rockdale a 45-21 win over Heritage.

Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove said his team was fired up, and it showed on the mats.

"I told our guys that Heritage has had the cup for three years, and it's time to bring it back over here," Hargrove said. "The guys wanted it and you could tell by the way they wrestled. Pins made the difference today. We wrestled hard for six minutes, and as long as you stay in the match, there's a chance you can win. We didn't give up any pins and that was really what separated us from Heritage."

Going 2-0 on the day for Rockdale were Ponce (two pins), Richardson (two pins), Collins (pin, technical fall), Burton (decision, forfeit) and Brown (two pins).

Schubert, Crawley, Powell, Wigington, Cheban and Wynne went undefeated for Heritage.

Heritage coach Randy Hooley was disappointed in the result, but he said it's more important that he gets his kids healthy for the upcoming area tournament.

"We've got a lot of injuries and some of the guys have been out for three or four weeks," Hooley said. "They're just not all the way ready to go yet. This was kind of a stepping stone. I wanted to see where the guys were and this was a good step for them. Now they know what they have to do for next week. They've got to step it up a little bit or they'll be done for the year."

Salem coach Tim Owens also said he was disappointed that things didn't turn out better for his team Saturday.

"We lost a couple of matches that we shouldn't have, and there were a couple of other matches that could have gone either way, and we ended up on the wrong end of it," Owens said.

Salem was led by Sammy Ahonen (152) and Blake White (189) who both went 2-0 on the day.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.