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Eastside looking to wrestle its way to top

COVINGTON -- Eastside's wrestling team will try to get back into the ranks of the elite as it competes in the Class AAA State Duals tournament starting today at noon against North Hall at the Macon Centreplex.

"I know nothing about them but I like our chances against North Hall. If we wrestle, it'll be one of those where it'll come down to a match or two," said Eastside head coach Earl Larimer. "We're just going to take it match by match.

"I told the guys that North Hall is a good duals team. They don't just have three or four top guys. They're petty solid in every way. I think we can beat them. But to do that it's going to come down to your 50/50 guys that are getting solid but they're still not a stud. It's the matches where either one can win -- we need to take those matches."

A win will put Eastside on the mat again at 5:15 p.m. while a loss would mean it wrestles again at 8:30 p.m. in the double elimination meet against the winner/loser of the Gilmer/Carrollton match.

According to Larimer, it takes a solid team to win a dual meet. Unlike an individual championship, here three or four top-notch wrestlers, like he has with state champion Tyler Bailey and state placer Kevin Thompson, can get enough points to win it all.

"You don't have to have great wrestlers that can win state, but you have to have a good solid wrestler in every weight class," he said. "We're a better duals team this year than last year."

Wrestlers that have made vast improvements from last season include Misha Felton, who has beat a couple of state placers, Dylan Gilmore, Jacob Wilder, James King, DJ Powell and Tyler Campbell.

Other grapplers that will need to show their skills on the mat include Rod Boley, Jesse Rainey, Garrett Yates, Zack Kimmel, Andrew Whisnet, Austin Wynne, David Miller, Stephen Leslie and Stephen Fisher.

Wrestling as many as five matches to make it to finals, there's no way to prepare for a specific opponent except for the first round because of upsets or other factors. That is why Larimer has his wrestlers ready no matter who they in on the mat.

"You can't worry about who you have (opponents). Sometimes there are match-ups involved where you're able to maneuver a match up that can affect the outcome. But the general overview is that you have to preform," he added. "They're all good or they wouldn't be there. You have to step it up and the individuals have to be good wrestlers and you have to beat good teams."

Having experience in these types of venues would be a good thing. However, after failing to qualify last year, wrestling in front of several hundred fans can set your focus off the task at hand. Keeping his wrestlers in focus is a major obstacle Larimer and the rest of the coaches are going to have to overcome. If they can do that, anything is possible.

"It's a new experience for most of these guys; we have to stay focused and go wrestle," said Larimer. "I told the guys to wrestle their very best, show great sportsmanship and then see what happens. But our goal is to go down there match-by-match, dual-by-dual and win as many as we can be leaving it on the mat."