Covington COVINGTON — There were some highs and lows in 2012 for some of the local sports teams. While it’s a difficult task to pick the top stories — considering that there are six high schools each playing 10 or more varsity sports — here are the top-10 local sports stories of the year.
Two stand atop the podium
It was a banner year for two local wrestlers, Jose Robledo of Rockdale and Heritage’s Boyce Cornwell, as each completed their senior season by capturing Class AAAA state wrestling titles. Robledo had a pair of major decisions, then a second-period pin in the semifinals before defeating Habersham Central’s Coleman Cunningham, 6-3 in the 145-pound final.
Cornwell had two first-period pins, then two minor decisions, including a 7-4 win over Kenneth Brinson in the 195-pound title match.
Worthy of gold
Eastside’s Dallas Worthy peaked at the right time winning the 400-meter dash in the GHSA Girls State Championships in the Class AAA meet. Worthy set a new personal record with a time of 55.92 seconds to take the top spot. It was obvious that she was going to do something special as her times went down throughout the season. She ran the New/Rock County Track and Field Championship in 1:00.79 before dropping her time to 57.07 in the Region 4-AAA Championship. Worthy broke the 57-second barrier in the AAA West Sectional with a time of 56.91. Her time dropped a little bit more at state, running the preliminaries in 56.39.
Alcovy basketball makes a statement
Alcovy’s basketball programs took a big step in showing other schools that it had teams to be reckoned with last season. The Alcovy boys, who finished the season with a 27-4 record and Region 3-AAAA champions with a 73-60 win over Fayette County, easily handled their first two opponents in the playoffs beating Forest Park 78-65 and Bainbridge 74-65 at home. However, they were unable to match North Clayton in the Elite-Eight game ending their season with an 84-62 loss.
The Lady Tigers (27-5) fell short of their goal losing to Fayette County 50-39 in the region championship game. But they came back with a 60-48 win over Mundy’s Mill in the first round of the playoffs before beating a tough Warner Robins team 71-62 on the road in hostile territory. Alcovy made it to the final four with a 51-40 win over Forest Park before losing to eventual Class AAAA state champion Miller Grove 42-34 at the Gwinnett Arena.
Rockdale cross county squads head to state
The Rockdale boys have made it to the state cross country meet and the Rockdale girls have made it to the state meet. But until 2012, never in the school’s long history have they both made it in the same year. The girls, behind Antwonette Thomas’ second-place finish with a time of 21:51 in the Region 2-AAAAAA meet, made it to the state meet after finishing second in the region meet. The boys got behind Patrick Massie’s fourth place region finish (17:15) to finish third in the region. Both teams ended up in the top half of the 32-team event with a pair of 15th-place finishes.
Rockdale volleyball makes it four straight
It’s becoming a regular sight to see the Rockdale volleyball team preparing for the state tournament. A year after the 2011 team won another region title, led by league player of the year Kendra Lackey, the 2012 group was region runner-up and was a state qualifier for a school-record fourth consecutive year.
“We started off the season unsure as a team, but about halfway through, we began playing really well,” Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. “The girls really stayed together, and we felt we could compete with anyone. We’re definitely proud to say we’ve made state for four years in a row. These seniors, that’s all they’ve known. They’ve created a culture of winning, which makes the next group want to be successful that much more.”
Heritage football makes it three straight
Before the 2010 season, the Heritage football program had been through a five-year drought since its last playoff appearance. That team finished as a No. 3 seed and lost to Marist in the first round of the state playoffs. The 2011 team went a step further and won a region championship, then won a state playoff game for the first time since 2004. Though the 2012 Patriots slipped back to a No. 3 seed after starting the year 6-1, the state tournament bid continued a program record of three consecutive appearances.
Rams stay home for once
Since winning and hosting the 1987 8-AAAA region championship , Newton has been to the playoffs five times. But until this season they were always forced to get on the bus to play on the road. It all changed this year after finishing second in Region 2-AAAAAA play as the Rams were able to wait for their opponent to arrive.
Lady Eagles hosts playoffs for first time
It seems like a trip to the playoffs for the Eastside girls is getting to be a regular thing having advanced to post-season play for the past five years. But this was the first time in school history the Lady Eagles that played host. Eastside eliminated Westside 3-0 before losing to Columbus in the second round. In their previous four attempts, the Lady Eagles lost their first-round game.
Patriots soccer wins region title with unbeaten mark
The Heritage boy’s soccer team accomplished quite a bit in 2012. Not only did the Patriots win the program’s first region title since 2003, but they finished without a loss. The 10-0 run included a three-game road winning streak in early-March that culminated with a victory over state-ranked Habersham Central.
Though the season, and a 13-game unbeaten streak ended with a 1-0 loss to South Forsyth in the first round of the state playoffs, Heritage had completed its finest season in nearly a decade.
at state meet
Newton senior Alex Grady finished his high school cross country career with four wins, two runner-up and four top-10 finshes. After repeating as region champion with a time of 16:31, Grady finished the GHSA Cross Country State Championship 23rd overall with a time of 17:14.
Grady also won the New/Rock Championship (16:39), Athens Academy No. 1 (17:15) and the Newton Quad (16:43) with runner-up finishes in Athens Academy No. 3 (16:59) and the North Oconee home meet (16:40). His top-10 finishes were in the Aubrae Gunderson Invitational Varsity White Division (3rd-16:03), Asics Invitational (5-15:33), NIKE/Fleet Coach Wood Invitational (6th-15:57) and the Berry College Clara Bowl Invitational (6th-16:27).
Rockdale Sports Writer Kurt Aschermann Jr. contributed to this story