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Eastside wrestlers take down another No. 1
Eagles defeat Tucker, finish tournament with 3 wins

SUWANEE - For the second time this season, the Eastside wrestling team has knocked off the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAA.

This time around, Tucker fell to the Eagles 37-28 on the mat Saturday during the Kyle Maynard Duals at Collins Hill High School. The Tigers entered the event ranked No. 1 in the Gasports.com Class AAAA poll.

Eastside went 3-2 in the tournament, losing to Class AAAAA No. 1-ranked Collins Hill and Father Ryan from Nashville, Tenn.

Father Ryan finished second in Tennessee in the individual tournament and had two state champions and five runners-up. Of the seven who competed in the championship round for Father Ryan, five were on the mat.

"It was a good time to have a match that didn't hold a lot on standings," Eastside coach Brandon Blakeman said. "We looked sloppy and we got out of position a lot. But luckily the only match that really mattered was the Tucker match.

"Wrestling Collins Hill was a practice, they're just that outstanding. It was a good way to get some of the holiday rust off before we get into the next three weeks. These next two weeks are really big - team area in two weeks and team state in three weeks."

Cody Durden, in the 103-pound weight class, was the only wrestler to go 5-0 at the duals.

Going 4-1 at the meet were Jamarcus Griggs (112), Joel Stafford (119), Trevor Bailey (135), David Bender (152) and Jon Palmer (171). All their losses came against Collins Hill.

Ardest Carter (189) and Carl Williams (285) were both 3-2.

Eastside started the day beating Ravenwood, of Brentwood, Tenn., 46-24 before losing to Collins Hill 58-6.

"The biggest thing I noticed between (Collins Hill) and us that makes the distinction is, if you go into their wrestling dressing room and you look at their depth chart, they've got four full teams and eight more," Blakeman said. "When you have that many practice partners that are on the skill level, you don't have to go outside to find competition. I've got an outstanding group of starters, but they don't have that many practice partners at their weight."

However, the Eagles bounced back from the defeat by beating Tucker and Montgomery Bell Academy 48-18. Montgomery Bell is from Nashville, Tenn.

Eastside held a slight lead on Father Ryan before their top wrestlers stepped on the mat. Of Father Ryan's last five wrestlers, two were returning state champions and two more were returning state runners-up.

Father Ryan came from behind to beat Eastside 39-31.

"This was good to find out who should wrestle in the lineup for team duals," Blakeman said. "The entire season, the lineup has been flipping and flopping. We're starting to slowly, but surely, get an idea of where to put people. I guess it's good because if I don't know who's going to be where the other teams don't know who's going where."

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