DULUTH -- Jose Robledo has come a long way in three years wrestling for Rockdale.
From not placing as a sophomore, to a third-place finish in 2011, to what Robledo called the "top of the world" Saturday in Duluth. Robledo got takedowns in both the first and third periods and held off a late charge by Habersham Central's Coleman Cunningham in winning a 6-3 decision in the Class AAAA 145-pound championship match.
"I'm just real excited," said Robledo, who avenged a pair of regular season losses to Cunningham and finished his senior season 45-8. "I've been working hard all three years (and) I learned from my mistakes. I love this sport."
"It's the best he's ever wrestled," said Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove. "Last time I talked to him I asked him 'What do you want to do?' He said 'Coach, I want to win it.' This is the first tournament he's ever won. You talk about a kid peaking at the right time. I'm just so proud of him."
Robledo wasn't alone atop the podium in Class AAAA. Heritage senior Boyce Cornwell, who placed sixth a year ago, erased an early 2-0 deficit and defeated Marist's Kenneth Brinson 7-4 in the 195-pound championship bout.
"I know that my training has gotten me to feel comfortable in any situation," Cornwell (44-3) said of trailing early. "My confidence wasn't always there last year, this year it's been there every match."
Heritage's other medalist was Joel Maldonado, who placed fifth at 113 pounds. Maldonado dropped a heartbreaker in the consolation semifinals, losing 4-3 in three overtimes to Clarke Central's Andrew Giegerich a week after falling to Giegerich in the Class AAAA East Sectional title match. But in the fifth-place match, the senior snapped a 2-2 tie with a take down, two-point near fall and reversal in the third period to secure an 8-4 decision over Lovejoy's Cassius Williams.
In the Class AAAA 106-pound final, Rockdale's Alonzo Allen lost a title match by one point for the second consecutive season. After losing 4-3 in the 103-pound final as a freshman, the sophomore Allen had control of Chad Hawkins for much of the final two periods, but couldn't turn the Woodland grappler and dropped a 5-4 decision.
"(Hawkins is) a great wrestler, it's just unfortunate," Hargrove said.
Will Hale of Loganville won his second state championship, this time at the expense of Kenneth Queh, pinning the Alcovy 126-pounder for the second time in a week. At last week's sectionals, Hale pinned midway through the third, but made short work of Queh Saturday, completing the pin in 1:46.
In Class AAA, Tyler Bailey couldn't repeat as state champion, dropping a 5-4 decision to Immanuel Henderson of Rutland. The 113-pound bout was delayed on several occasions for blood time as Bailey dealt with a cut on his head. Henderson, who went 1-2 at state tournament a year ago, grabbed control of the match with a take downs in the first period and with 1:28 left in the this to go up 5-2. Bailey got an escape and picked up a stalling point with 12 seconds left, but Henderson hung on.
Bailey was joined on the podium by teammates Kevin Thompson and Misha Felton. Thompson bounced back from an 8-6 semi final loss to eventual state runner-up Johnie Flakes of Gilmer with a 3-0 victory over West Laurens' Bryce Carr in the consolation semi finals, then was dominant in pinning Locust Grove's Jared Benefield in 4:00 to take home a third-place medal. Felton took fifth at 120 pounds with an 8-2 decision over Trei Johnson of Sandy Creek.