Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Class AAAA 145-pound state champion Kevin Thompson finished his senior year with a perfect 64-0 record
COVINGTON -- With three pins and a technical pinfall at last weekend's Class AAAA state wrestling championships in Macon, Eastside's Kevin Thompson wrote his name in the local record books in indelible ink.
In addition to winning the 145-pound state title, Thompson ended his final campaign with a perfect 64-0 record, becoming what is believed to be the only wrestler in Newton County history to record an undefeated season.
"I've done a lot of research and tried to verify the information, but I can't find any mention of any Newton County wrestler going undefeated through a whole season," said Eastside coach Earl Larimer.
The 6-foot-1 Thompson -- who during the early part of the season wrestled at 152 and then later dropped to 145 -- closed out his prep wrestling career with a 208-20 record and four visits to the state championships. As a sophomore, Thompson finished fourth at 135, and last year he came in third at 138.
"Words can't express how happy I felt when I won state," said Thompson, who pinned Carrollton's Turner Martin in the first round to claim the 145 crown. "Several wrestlers asked me that day and I just couldn't find the words to express my happiness and joy.
"It's really overwhelming. This is what I've been dreaming about since I started wrestling six years ago. Winning the state championship was awesome."
Larimer added that he was as excited as Thompson when the senior Eagle's hand was raised in victory.
"He's such a hard worker and when he won state, it was just awesome," said Larimer, who also pointed out that last year Thompson earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. "It couldn't happen to a better kid. When he won, I just thought, 'Justice is served.'
"Nobody works harder than Kevin, and it was awesome to have one of the best seats in the house for his championship season, and it's awesome to see hard work rewarded with a great senior year."
Larimer who is a 1999 Eastside graduate and has coached the Eagles for the past three seasons pointed out that in addition to possessing an incredible work ethic, Thompson garnered his undefeated season and state championships with a style that's a bit beyond the traditional.
"Kevin is as dedicated as anybody I've ever seen," said Larimer. "His drive and passion for the sport is unmatched. And he's got an unorthodox style on the mat. He's a funky kind of wrestler and is a great mat wrestler. He'll create scrambles where his opponent will think, 'I've got him now,' and then the next thing the opponent knows, he's on his back getting pinned."
"It's a little hard to explain, although they call it funk," added Thompson, who has not suffered a pinfall since the seventh grade. "It's something a lot of wrestlers are starting to adopt and even though I started out that way, I knew I needed to redefine my style and add technique to it. Once you put funk and technique together, it's the best thing ever. I need to continue to redefine it and to work on making it better."
Thompson who said his toughest match of the season came in December during a 5-4 victory over J.J. Alfau of Camden County at the Seahawk Slam in Hilton Head, S.C. -- added that he's grateful to Larimer for the guidance he's provided for the past three seasons.
"He's been behind me 100 percent," said Thompson of his coach. "We sit after every match and watch the video and we look at how I did. You're always going to make a mistake here or there, and he'd help me find the mistakes, work on them and fix them. Fixing the little things is what makes you a champion and he was tuned in to the smallest details. He's a great coach because he puts his whole self into wrestling."
For his part, Larimer said Thompson's name belongs with the greats in Eastside wrestling.
"In my time here, Kevin's won a state championship and Tyler Bailey won one (2011), so in my era, they're the best two," said Larimer. "Without a doubt he's been one of the best wrestlers Eastside has ever had. He's certainly in the conversation. He'll go down as one of the best because he's done something that nobody else has done he ran the table and won a championship."
Thompson said he hopes his tenure on the Eastside mats will be memorable for future Eagles wrestlers.
"I would say I'm satisfied," he said. "I think I've accomplished a lot with an undefeated season and a state title, but I hope the legacy I leave will mean more. I don't care so much that people remember that I was a state champion, but I hope I'll be remembered as a nice guy, a good team captain and someone who helped his teammates. When I was a young wrestler here, I idolized my older teammates and I really looked up to them. I hope the younger wrestlers will look up to me and understand the work they have to put in to achieve their goals."