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Bulldogs rule area wrestling
Rockdale claims team, six individual crowns

LOGANVILLE - The Rockdale wrestling squad wrapped up its domination of Area 8-AAAA this season by claiming the team title at the traditional tournament on Saturday.

The Bulldogs claimed six individual titles and earned nine total berths to the Class AAAA East Sectional, which is set for Friday and Saturday at Glynn Academy in Brunswick.

In January, the Bulldogs claimed the Area 8-AAAA dual title and then went on to finish third at the state dual competition.

Seventeen wrestlers from Rockdale County earned trips to the AAAA East Sectional by placing in the top four Saturday.

Out of 11 teams, the Bulldogs tallied 220.5 points en route to the title. Loganville took second (203.5), followed by Habersham Central (195.5) and Heritage (112.5). Salem finished 10th overall with 30 points.

"We're really excited. It was a great championship round, and it was exciting to see that many guys winning," Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove said. "Our group of seniors really stepped it up and wrestled well."

Area champions for the Bulldogs were Jake Morris (103 pounds), Luis Ponce (125), Kafuba Donzon (152), Jimmy Brown (160), Lloyd Martell (171) and Grady Jarrett (285).

Martell pinned Salem's Joe Morovich to win the title at 171, while Jarrett also chalked up a fall against Habersham Central's Josh Key in the title match at 285.

Morris beat Loganville's Will Hale 9-2 in the championship match at 103. Ponce cruised to a 7-0 decision over Apalachee's Austin Sheppard in his 125 title match. Kafuba also had an easy time at 152, beating Habersham Central's Steven Parks 11-3 for the title.

Heritage's Billy Abrahamsen at 112 pounds was the only other local wrestler to claim an Area 8-AAAA individual crown. He beat Clarke Central's Devonte Upshaw 19-9 to win the title.

Rounding out the Bulldog placers were James Toole (215, second), Muhammad Bois (145, third) and Rashaud Ferrell (189, third). Toole lost 8-3 in his title match against Madison County's Tyler Adams.

For Hargrove, it becomes the first time his Bulldogs have captured the title since he took over as head coach.

"We've just been having great practices, and we're going to keep getting after it really hard," he said.

For Heritage, sixth other wrestlers qualified for the Class AAAA East Sectional. They are Joel Maldando (103, fourth), Steven Crawley (119, fourth), Erik Lauritsen (135, third), William Heath (140, fourth), David Plunkett (152, third) and Boyce Cornwell (215, fourth).

Morovich, the runner-up at 171, was the only wrestler from Salem to advance to the sectional.

The top finishers in this weekend's sectional will advance to the Georgia traditional state wrestling tournament, which will be held Feb. 19 to 21 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth.

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: Sectional Qualifiers

Area champions

Jake Morris, Rockdale, 103 pounds

Billy Abrahamsen, Heritage, 112 pounds

Luis Ponce, Rockdale, 125 pounds

Kafuba Donzon, Rockdale, 152 pounds

Jimmy Brown, Rockdale, 160 pounds

Lloyd Martell, Rockdale, 171 pounds

Grady Jarrett, Rockdale, 285 pounds

Area runners-up

Joe Morovich, Salem, 171 pounds

James Toole, Rockdale, 215 pounds

Third-place finishers

Erik Lauritsen, Heritage, 135 pounds

Muhamad Bois, Rockdale, 145 pounds

David Plunkett, Heritage, 152 pounds

Rashaud Ferrell, Rockdale, 189 pounds

Fourth-place finishers

Joel Maldando, Heritage, 103 pounds

Steven Crawley, Heritage, 119 pounds

William Heather, Heritage, 140 pounds

Boyce Cornwell, Heritage, 215 pounds