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51 local wrestlers headed to sectionals

In its first postseason tournament in its brand-new gymnasium Saturday, the Rockdale wrestling team made plenty of history on the mats as well.

Led by six individual champions, Rockdale qualified a wrestler in all 14 weight classes, winning the Area 2-AAAAAA championship, 247.5 to 185.5 over second-place Alcovy.

It is believed to be the first time in the modern era of 14 weight classes that Rockdale has qualified all 14 out of its area tournament, and the Bulldogs, Alcovy and Newton will bring a total of 35 wrestlers to next weekend's Class AAAAAA East Sectionals at Chattahoochee High School.

"Hosting the event and being able to win it, it's something special," said Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove. "We told (the wrestlers) we were anticipating all 14, can't complain when we bring all of them."

Alonzo Allen (106 pounds), Stephen Hart (113), Ronzell Teague (126), Ulises Ponce (132), Sean Mer (152) and Anthony Banks (170) all won area titles for Rockdale. The group wasn't alone as four finished as runners-up -- Clifton Casurra (138), Adam Walden (145), Tony Jones (160) and heavyweight Mike Mason -- and four others were third-place finishers: 120-pound Tyrone Hearn, Luis Galindo (182), 195-pound Lamonte Stroud and 220-pound Moises Mendez.

"They were talking about it this week, how cool it would be (to win the area title)," Hargrove said. "Just really proud of them, they really wrestled hard."

Alcovy, which defeated Rockdale in the Area 2-AAAAAA Duals championship match, 36-29 last month, had 11 sectionals qualifiers, including three champions: Hunter Smith (120), Justin Howell (145) and Austin Richardson (160).

Also placing for the Tigers were runners-up Austin Guy (106), Jamire Saunders (113), Jake Hendrix, who lost by technical fall, 16-1 to Ponce in the 132-pound final, Cole Patterson (152), Kamari Williams (182) and 195-pound Michael Thurman. Sergio Cruz (1260 and Parfait Fondseyuf (170) took home third-place medals.

Newton finished third with 134 points, and had three champions as Jose Rivera won the 138-pound title with a 6-1 minor decision over Casurra in the final, and A.J. Palomino and Javon Gannt took home first-place medals at 220 and 285 pounds, respectively.

Five other Rams reached the sectional level in runners-up Kameron Wallace (126) and Nnamdi Okenyuluje (170), third-place finishers Victor Medina (152) and Anthony Bradley (160) and fourth-place finishers James Wilson (113), Brady Shivers (120) and Akil Mauloud (145).

Eastside will be well-represented at this weekend's Class AAAA East Sectional at West Laurens High School. The Eagles, led by Kevin Thompson, who not only won the 145-pound title at the Area 8-AAAA Tournament, but picked up his 200th career win, qualified nine wrestlers at the area tournament. Thompson will be joined by sectional qualifiers Rod Boley (106), Levi Leach (113), Patrick Cochran (120), Misha Felton (126), Tyler Campbell (152), Ethree King (170), Mitchell Troutman (182) and Garrett Yates (195).

At the Class AAAAA East Sectional at Loganville, nine wrestlers will compete from Heritage and Salem. The Patriots qualified seven from Area 8-AAAA, including 106-pound David Harris, 113-pound Marco Harris, Joe Timmons (132), Julian George (145), Mitch Clemens (152), 182-pound Keenan Wilson and Daniel Foster (220). Salem will be represented by Reggie Hurt, a 120-pounder, and Matt Lewis-Hardwick (126).