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Allen caps brilliant high school career

For Alonzo Allen, it seemed to only be a matter of time.

As a freshman, the Rockdale wrestler lost a heartbreaking, 4-3 decision to Union Grove’s Griffin Higginbotham in the 103-pound finals of Class AAAA. A year later, it happened again as Woodland’s Chad Hawkins nipped Allen 5-4 in the championship match in the Class AAAA 106-pound weight class.

As a junior, Allen was widely-considered the favorite to win his first state title, though with the Bulldogs moving up to the highest classification - the brand-new AAAAAA - it wasn’t considered to be an easy feat. In February, 2013, Allen was finally a state champion, besting Brennan Ninseling 6-2 in the 106-pound title match.

Last month, Allen did it one more time. He once again started the year as the favorite, this time at 113 pounds, and once the state tournament began (for the first time in Allen’s career not at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, but at Chattahoochee High School after wintry weather moved all six traditional tournaments to high school gymnasiums) - the Rockdale grappler polished off a 49-1 season and a stellar prep career with his second state crown.

Four finals appearances and two state crowns: not a bad way to spend four years in a high school wrestling singlet.

“It’s pretty remarkable to even have a state champion let alone a kid whose been to the state finals four times,” said Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove, whose coached a state champion in each of the last four seasons. “You look at this ninth and tenth grade year only to lose those matches by a point each year, it’s quite an accomplishment.”

Hargrove remembers the first time Allen appeared in a high school match, and it didn’t go as well as things have gone in the last four Februarys: Allen lost by technical fall against Eagle’s Landing.

“I was kidding with him the other day, just about his first match, I was going through some old score books,” Hargrove said. “It was one of those things, he made weight, didn’t realize he didn’t have to weigh in for another week, went out there dehydrated, and didn’t wrestle well. He’s come a long way.”

It was shortly after that loss, at the East Metro Tournament at Alcovy High School, that Hargrove saw Allen go from just another wrestler to one capable of winning state championships.

“It was a tough field at 103 (pounds), I think he was seeded eighth or something, and he knocked off a couple tough kids and some light bulbs started going off,” Hargrove said. “That right there, from that point forward, that was a like a defining moment.”

Now it’s on to bigger and better things for Allen, who has gotten college interest from Chattanooga and Brewton-Parker, among others. He is expected to compete at Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach at the end of the month, and on April 13 at Life University will be a part of a dual team of Georgia wrestlers who will go up against Team USA in the Cliff Keen All Star Classic.

“That’s a big one,” Hargrove said of the Life University dual.

After a standout prep career, Allen shouldn’t have any problems handling himself in the big ones.