COVINGTON - The Newton wrestling team is headed to Macon to compete in the Class AAAAA team dual championship after finishing second in the Area 2-AAAAA duals Saturday at Redan High School.
"This is the second year in a row we qualified. I think we missed it the year before that," Newton coach Wes Cooper said. "It's a goal that we had. I felt like we put a good performance together Saturday. We came out with a lot of intensity and we wrestled well. We won close matches that maybe we haven't won in the past and that helped put us over the edge."
Newton started the tournament with a 53-15 win over M.L. King before beating Redan 38-28 in a close match in the semifinals.
"We knew it was going to be a very competitive match," Cooper said. "We got a big decision from Richard Jones at 103. Unfortunately, we were having to forfeit at 112 so that was really a big swing. If we had lost at 103 and forfeited at 112, we would've had to win out."
Ryan Mitchell, who went 2-0, put the Rams out of reach with a win in the 119-pound weight class following Jones' win.
While the area duals are a team effort, individually, several wrestlers really stepped up to the challenge.
Among those that proved ready for the fight ahead of them were Jones, Hosea Hines (189) and Alan Amentia (215), who were 3-0.
"Alan Amentia won a big match for us. We bumped him up from 215 to heavyweight (285) because we did not have a heavyweight against M.L. King and he got a pin there," Cooper said. "He got a pin against Redan, too, but he was at 215 there.
"Corey Ware (125) lost a close match to Union Grove and was 2-1. Aaron Reynolds was 2-1, he lost a match to Joey Lazor, who's No. 1 in that state at 135."
Newton lost 48-18 in the finals against Union Grove, which is ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAA.
One thing that Cooper noticed was the increased level of competition in the area, especially with the addition of Greenbrier.
"Stephenson really impressed me. For the first time in two years, they had a full team. They actually upset Greenbrier in the first round," Cooper said.
In the consolation finals, Greenbrier was edged out by Redan.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.