WATKINSVILLE - Eastside's wrestling team was all business in the first day of the Area 8-AAA duals, winning 40 of its 42 matches while almost getting a perfect score of 84 in its final match against Franklin County.
If the Eagles are as successful in their final four matches today, they will become a four-time area dual champion after winning the 8-AAAA championship the past three years.
"You want to come in and set the tone the first day for a good second day," Eastside coach Brandon Blakeman said. "You kind of worry the first day about what kind of fire or passion they come out wrestling with. They came out and wrestled hard, wrestled well. There are little things here and there and they got sloppy. But they knew the mistakes they made. It was a great start and we have to carry it over to (today)."
While 13 of the 15 grapplers that saw action won all of their matches, only seniors Joel Stafford (125 pounds) and Trevor Bailey (140) were 3-0, pinning all three of their opponents. Jonathan Hilley (152) had two pins in two matches.
Stafford had two pins under 45 seconds, with the third one coming in 1:36 in the first period.
"He's a machine. He didn't wrestle in the last dual and he wanted to get the rust off. I think he did that really well," Blakeman said.
Bailey's first pin came with 10 seconds left in the first period, while the other two were in 51 and 50 seconds into the match.
Getting two pins were freshmen Sage Allen (130), Dalton Bragg (135), Andrew Green (145), Dalton Temple (171), Tommy Williams (189) and Phillip King (285).
"That's something that we expect. When you have your seniors pining, that sets the tone for the other guys," Blakeman said. "The younger guys are going to emulate what the older guys do."
When Lincoln Temple (215) started the day, it looked like he was Eastside's weak link, losing the only match against Elbert County.
However, he proved everyone wrong, getting a 15-0 technical pin against Stephens County in the first period and a 1:30 pin against Franklin County.
"He's got the heart and he's improved a tremendous amount from last year. I'm really proud of him because no matter what, he's never griped or complained," Blakeman said. "He'll always give you 100 percent."
Also getting technical pins were Cody Durden (112), Danny Gatt (119) and Allen.
Getting one pin were Danny Gatt and Brandon Gatt (103) and Jonathan Palmer (160).
When the Eagles begin their day at 10 a.m. today, they will take on Hart County, followed by Morgan County, Jackson County and Oconee County.
"Before Jackson County and Eastside moved to this area, it's kind of been Oconee County's area. They're not going to go quietly. They want to come in and show what they've got," Blakeman added. "I still feel confident in our abilities but we have to come out a little more focused. We came in expecting that we were going to walk through and I don't like that. You tend to underestimate people when you do that."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.