Eastside wrestlers near first championship
Eagles face Ringgold for AAAA title

MACON - The Eastside Eagles are one win away from winning their first ever Class AAAA team duals championship after winning three matches in a row Friday at the Macon Centreplex.

"They were on fire. They were determined, and they did what they wanted to get done," Eastside coach Brandon Blakeman said.

The Eagles will compete for the championship at 8 p.m. today against Ringgold, the No. 10 team in Class AAAA.

Ringgold beat Tucker 37-27 in the semifinals to set up the match against Eastside.

"It doesn't matter who we wrestle; whoever's there is there," Blakeman said. "We're just going to do our job because that's the only thing we can dictate."

Eastside started the day with a 58-12 win over Marist before beating No. 9-ranked Effingham County 54-20 in the quarterfinals and topping No. 6-ranked Northwest Whitfield 50-19 in the semifinals.

"I'm so proud of my boys. They've wrestled better than I've ever seen them wrestle. They were in the semis last year and we lost," Blakeman said. "They knew what it felt like to lose, and they were determined that it was not going to happen again."

Eastside had eight wrestlers go 3-0 with three winning their bouts by falls - David Bender (152 pounds), Jonathan Palmer (171) and Karl Williams (215).

Winning all their matches for the Eagles were Jamarcus Griggs (112), Joel Stafford (119), Michael Green (125), Trevor Bailey (135) and Ardest Carter (189).

In the quarterfinals against Effingham County, the Eagles had a 21-14 lead after losing at 140 in sudden death following a controversial ending in regulation.

Eastside responded by winning the next six matches, five by pins.

Northwest Whitfield never made much of a match out of it as the Eagles jumped to a 20-0 lead after the first five matches.

After losing three out of four, Eastside won four of the final five bouts with four being decided by pin, including a 13 econd pin by 103-pounder Cody Durden.

Despite missing some of its key wrestlers, Newton still took the fight to Hiram in Class AAAAA. However, the Hornets were able to push back Newton's charge and send the Rams into the consolation round early.

"We were missing two of our key wrestlers. If we would've had them, it might have been a different story," Newton coach Chris Andrews said. "All the kids did a great job today that fought the battle; they brought it to Hiram."

Danny Mendoza (135), Travis Knight (160) and Michael Fellows (285) registered pins against Hiram, while Ryan Mitchell (112), Corey Ware (119) and Andrew Terrell (152) won by points.

The Rams start their day at 9 a.m. today against Forsyth Central, who lost to Harrison 46-21. The winner will take on Union Grove, who lost to No. 1-ranked Collins Hill 37-27 in the quarterfinals.

"We're looking forward (today) against Forsyth Central," Andrews said. "Hopefully, we'll have a victory there."

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