JASPER -- Tournament weight-class championship wins by Tyler Bailey and Kevin Thompson put Eastside in a position to tie for 11th place in the two-day Burnt Mountain Classic tournament, including wins over Class powerhouse Gilmer.
Bailey, who won the 113-pound weight division and had been wrestling at 120 before this tournament, won two of his three matches by falls.
After getting a bye in the first round, it took Bailey 46 seconds in the second round before pinning Cartersville's Brandon Reeves. Bailey continued to dominate the weight class with a pin over Gilmer's Daniel Bautista in the semifinals pinning his opponent in 4:38 to make it to the championship round.
Against Class AAAA Lovejoy's Cassius Williams in the finals, Bailey was able to out wrestle his opponent 11-3 to win the weight class.
"It's an adjustment dropping weight classes," said Eastside head coach Earl Larimer. "The first time is the hardest, then it starts to get smoother as you get more accumulated."
Thompson was a perfect 4-0 to win the 138-weight division. He started the day with a 2:55 pin over Evan Cole from Cartersville. Thompson continued to take control over his destiny with a pin over East Jackson's Jake Tate with a pin in 3:44. As Thompson got deeper in the bracket the competition got harder, but the wins continued. In the semifinals against Fayette County's William McMahan, Thompson advanced to the finals with a 5-2 win. Thompson won his weight division blanking Gilmer's Johnie Flakes with a 6-0 win.
"You're always happy when any of your guys beat guys on a top team. The one that Kevin wrestled placed at state last year," said Larimer.
The tournament did not start well for DJ Powell (106) losing 13-4 to Fayette County's Cody McMillian. That was when his character came through winning the next four matches by falls to take third place. Powell's first win came with a pin in 48 seconds over East Jackson's Austin Jones. His next win was over Gilmer's Caleb Grimsley (1:26) followed by Creekview's Justin Goss (1:53) before beating Colin Oliver of Bob Jones (Ala.) with a pin 12 seconds before the end of the third round.
"For him to place in a tournament like that it shows me that he's enough in stride to do it," said Larimer. "He just has to perform (at state)."
Even though an 11th-place finish was not what Larimer expected when he scheduled the match, it was a lot higher than he thought he would get considering he went in short-handed. Eastside went to the tournament with only six wrestlers as the other eight were sitting this one out in hopes of healing before the Area 4-AAA tournament and eventual Class AAA traditional state tournament coming up soon.
"I feel that if we would've had our whole traditional team, you don't like to speculate, I think we would've had a great shot of getting in the top five," said Larimer. "We have a few guys trying to get healthy (for area)."