It was a banner season for the Eastside and Rockdale wrestling teams.
So it should come as no surprise that the Eagles and Bulldogs are well-represented on the Citizen's 2009 All-Area Wrestling Team.
The Eastside trio of Joel Stafford, Trevor Bailey and Jonathan Palmer all claimed individual state titles in Class AAA. Not to be outdone, Rockdale's Luis Ponce added a state crown in AAAA.
Eastside changed classifications, moving from Class AAAA to AAA, but still claimed its second straight team title at the state traditional meet. The Eagles also finished second at the state team duals, losing by a single point to LaFayette.
Rockdale fashioned its own stellar season, finishing third at the AAAA state team dual meet and sixth in the traditional tournament. The Bulldogs swept the team titles in Area 8-AAAA, claiming both the team dual meet and traditional tournament championships, as well as their second consecutive Conyers Cup.
With four wrestlers winning individual state championships, the choice for the Citizen's 2009 Wrestler of the Year was a tough one.
But Rockdale's Ponce is the Wrestler of the Year after putting together a brilliant senior campaign and becoming the first Bulldog individual state champion since the early 1990s.
Eastside's Brandon Blakeman is the Coach of the Year for the second straight season after guiding the Eagles to another outstanding season, which included sending 13 wrestlers to the traditional state tournament.
Jake Morris (103 pounds, Rockdale): Morris posted a 44-3 record for the Bulldogs, finishing fourth in Class AAAA. The junior also won Area 8-AAAA and state sectional crowns.
Cody Durden (112 pounds Eastside): Durden, a senior, compiled a 33-4 mark for the Eagles, which included a second-place finish at state in Class AAA. The senior fell by just one point in the title match. He also won his weight class at the state sectional.
Billy Abrahamsen (112 pounds, Heritage): Abrahmsen turned in a sparkling effort the Patriots with a 49-3 record and a fifth-place finish at state in 4-A. The sophomore was a champion in five tournaments during the year, including Area 8-AAAA.
Danny Gatt (119 pounds, Eastside): Gatt, a junior, chalked up a 39-10 mark for the Eagles and was the Class AAA runner-up at state. He also claimed the Area 8-AAA championship.
Luis Ponce (125 pounds, Rockdale): Ponce only had one blemish on his record this year, as the senior produced a 49-1 mark. He also avenged that loss later in the season. At state, he had two pins, a seven-point decision (in the finals) and a six-point win to claim his state championship. He also won 8-AAAA and state sectional titles.
Joel Stafford (125 pounds, Eastside): Stafford capped off his career with another stellar season for the Eagles, posting a 39-4 record and winning a AAA individual state championship. At state, he recorded three pins and a decision en route to the title. The senior aded individual crowns in 8-AAA and the state sectional.
Adam Pollard (130 pounds, Alcovy): Pollard was a model of consistency for the Tigers, compiling a 33-3 record. The senior was a state runner-up in Class AAAA. He also was an Area 4-AAAA champion.
Sage Allen (135 pounds, Eastside): Allen made a big splash for the Eagles as a freshman, saving his best for the state meet where he finished second in Class AAA. His final record was 25-9 He also posted a third in Area 8-AAA.
Aaron Reynolds (135 pounds, Newton): Reynolds, a sophomore, posted a strong 56-10 record for the Rams, which included individual titles at the Morgan County Christmas Tournament and the Redskin Rumble. He finished second in Area 2-AAAAA behind three-time state champion Joey Lazor from Union Grove. The sophomore was also fifth at the state sectional.
Trevor Bailey (140 pounds, Eastside): Bailey left little doubt at the state meet, dominating his weight class with four impressive wins (a pin, a technical fall, an eight-point decision and a seven-point victory) en route to a AAA individual title. The senior posted a 35-1 record and also claimed individual crowns in Area 8-AAA and the state sectional.
Travis Knight (140 pounds, Alcovy): Knight posted a record of 51-6 for the Tigers, including a fifth-place finish in Class AAAA. The senior also was an Area 4-AAAA champion.
Muhamad Bois (145 pounds, Rockdale): Bois recorded a third-place finish in 8-AAAA for the Bulldogs and also qualified for the state meet.
Malachi Outlaw (152 pounds, Alcovy): Outlaw completed his stellar Tiger career with a 45-5 record and a fourth-place finish in AAAA at state. The senior was also an Area 4-AAAA champion.
Kafuba Donzon (152 pounds, Rockdale): Donzon was another key cog for the Bulldogs this season, compiling a 54-4 record and finishing third in the Class AAAA state meet. At state, he avenged two of his losses by beating Alcovy's Outlaw 8-5 in the third-place match. The senior also won Area 8-AAAA and state sectional titles.
Jonathan Palmer (160 pounds, Eastside): Palmer claimed the Class AAA state title with a pin, finishing the season with a 46-3 record for the Eagles. The senior also added Area 8-AAA and state sectional individual crowns.
Lloyd Martell (171 pounds, Rockdale): Martell turned in a 42-9 record and sixth-place state finish in Class AAAA for the Bulldogs. He also collected an Area 8-AAAA title and was a runner-up at the state sectional.
Dalton Temple (171 pounds, Eastside): Temple, a sophomore, was 32-12 for the Eagles and finished sixth in Class AAA at state. He also claimed an Area 8-AAA title and was a runner-up in the state sectional.
Tommy Williams (189 pounds, Eastside): Williams narrowly missed a Class AAA state title of his own for the Eagles, falling 5-4 in the championship bout. The senior posted a 45-6 record, including runner-up finishes in 8-AAA and the state sectional.
James Toole (215 pounds, Rockdale): Toole was an Area 8-AAAA runner-up and a state qualifier for the Bulldogs.
Phillip King (285 pounds, Eastside): King, a senior, compiled a 28-10 record and a fourth-place finish in Class AAA for the Eagles. He also claimed an Area 8-AAA championship.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: All-area wrestling
· Wrestler of the Year:
Luis Ponce, Rockdale
· Coach of the Year:
Brandon Blakeman, Eastside
103: Jake Morris (Rockdale)
112: Cody Durden (Eastside)
112: Billy Abrahamsen (Heritage)
119: Danny Gatt (Eastside)
125: Luis Ponce (Rockdale)
125: Joel Stafford (Eastside)
130: Adam Pollard (Alcovy)
135: Sage Allen (Eastside)
135: Aaron Reynolds (Newton)
140: Trevor Bailey (Eastside)
140: Travis Knight (Alcovy)
145: Muhamad Bois (Rockdale)
152: Malachi Outlaw (Alcovy)
152: Kafuba Donzon (Rockdale)
160: Jonathan Palmer (Eastside)
171: Lloyd Martell (Rockdale)
171: Dalton Temple (Eastside)
189: Tommy Williams (Eastside)
215: James Toole (Rockdale)
285: Phillip King (Eastside)
Alcovy: David Jones, Jon
Eastside: Brandon Gatt, Michael Green, Jonathan Hiley, Jake Malcolm, Lincoln Temple
Heritage: Boyce Cornwell, Steven Crawley, Austin Heath, Dalton Heath, Erik Lauritsen, Joel Maldonado, David Plunkett
Newton: Hosea Hines, Ryan Mitchell, Corey Ware
Rockdale: Jimmy Brown, Rashaud Ferrell, Grady Jarrett
Salem: Joe Morovich