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Individuals the focus at wrestling tourneys

COVINGTON - Now that the team concept of wrestling is over, it's time to see who's the best individually as the area traditional wrestling tournaments take center stage this weekend.

Rockdale, Heritage and Salem begin their Area 8-AAAA competition today at 5 p.m. at Loganville before finishing Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

Eastside, Alcovy and Newton will figure out who is the best in their areas in one-day tournaments on Saturday, all starting at 9 a.m.

Eastside, which competes in Area 8-AAA, will be at Morgan County, while Alcovy (4-AAAA) will be at Jonesboro and Newton (2-AAAAA) will be at Union Grove.

Of the local schools, Eastside and Rockdale have the best chance of winning their area championships as teams and having the most individual area champions.

"I think that Cody Durden (112 pounds), Danny Gatt (119), Joel Stafford (125), Michael Green (130), Sage Allen (135), Trevor Bailey (140), Jonathan Palmer (160), Dalton Temple (171) and Tommy Williams (189) could all be area champions," Eastside coach Brandon Blakeman said. "Each of these guys went undefeated at the area dual tournament.

"Brandon Gatt (103), Jonathan Hilley (152), Lincoln Temple (215) and Phillip King (285) also have legitimate shots, but need to have great tournaments. They all wrestled very well at area duals, but each of them lost at least one match. Jake Malcom (145) didn't wrestle at area duals, so I can't evaluate him against the rest of the area right now. But if he has a good tournament, he also could find himself as area champion."

Rockdale's Jake Morris (103), Luis Ponce (125), Muhamad Bois (145), Kafuba Donzon (152), Jimmy Brown (160), Lloyd Martell (171) and Grady Jarrett (285) are expected to contend for individual championships in 8-AAAA.

Alcovy had area champions in Adam Pollard (135) and Malachi Outlaw (160) last year, and both have high expectations of repeating the feat again this season. Besides Pollard and Outlaw, Jon Seymour (103), Travis Knight (140) and David Jones (285) also are threats for the Tigers in 4-AAAA.

While Newton did not have anyone crowned as Area 2-AAAAA champion last year, the Tigers did have several wrestlers take second place, including Corey Ware (125), Aaron Reynolds (135) and Hosea Hines (189).

Not only does the tournament determine who is the best in the area, it also decides who will advance to the sectionals for a chance to wrestle at state.

"If everyone competes at the level that they are capable of competing, then I feel we could qualify all 14 guys for the sectionals," Newton coach Wes Cooper said.

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

SideBar: Area tournaments

Area 8-AAAA Traditional Tournament

Who: Heritage, Rockdale, Salem

Where: Loganville High School

When: 5 p.m. today, 9 a.m. Saturday

Area 2-AAAAA Traditional Tournament

Who: Newton

Where: Union Grove High School

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Area 4-AAAA Traditional Tournament

Who: Alcovy

Where: Jonesboro High School

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Area 8-AAA Traditional Tournament

Who: Eastside

Where: Morgan County High School

When: 9 a.m. Saturday