PERRY -- After putting together a strong showing at last week’s Area 8-AAAAAAA traditionals meet, Rockdale County’s showing at sectionals wasn’t much of a change after qualifying eight of their 10 wrestlers for the state tournament in Macon.
Rockdale’s Kaleb Walley will put his undefeated record on the line later this week at the traditional championships after dominating at sectionals and winning the 195-pound title with relative ease.
Walley was joined by Jalon Bailey, who wrestled his way to a sectionals title at 170 pounds. Two pins and a 4-3 decision sent Bailey into the finals Saturday, where he went on to defeat Camden County’s Cody Herrin 6-5 to claim the title.
One year removed from a sectionals title in the heavyweight division, Rockdale’s Ed Pollard had his opportunity at repeating ended with a 10-8 loss to Colquitt County’s Vendarion Knighton in the semifinals.
Pollard bounced back, however and went on to pin Mill Creek’s Ryan Stokes to finish in third.
Standout junior Christopher Ponce ran into a buzzsaw in Collins Hill’s Elijah Griffin in the 132-pound semifinals and suffered only his second loss of the season, ending his chances at a sectionals title.
Already locked into state, Ponce lost to Mill Creek’s Nic Bachmann 2-0 in the consolation semifinals before winning his fifth-place match.
Senior Jovanni Butler had his struggles Saturday, too after losing in the first round to Collins Hill’s Jordan St. Prueve 12-7. Needing to win his next two bouts to advance to state, Butler gutted out a close 6-5 win over Marietta’s Miller Huffman in the next round before earning a major decision over Kennesaw Mountain’s Andrew London.
Butler was handed another tough loss in the consolation semifinals, losing 8-7 to Mill Creek’s Joey Bambinelli, but was able to rebound in with a 10-5 win over St. Prueve to finish the tournament in seventh.
Senior Antonio Lucero qualified for state at 138 pounds, but had to do so from the consolation bracket after losing his first-round matchup to Camden County’s Robert Henderson. Needing back-to-back wins to qualify for state, Lucero did just that and pinned both Kennesaw Mountain’s Bryan Simpkins and Mountain View’s Jordan Eccleston.
Lucero went on to wrestle for fifth, but lost to a familiar face in Archer’s Florin Myndresku 10-5.
Lesario Reid advanced to state at 220 pounds after winning back-to-back matches in the consolation bracket. Reid pinned Hillgrove’s Antoine Joseph to qualify and went on to finish in seventh.
Ya’Donnis Hardaway rounded out the Bulldogs’ state qualifiers at 145 pounds. Needing a win over Kennesaw Mountain’s Jeremy Medina to qualify, Hardaway earned a 6-0 decision before losing his final two matches of the day to finish in eighth.
The season ended for Hunter Muse and Donovan Burroughs, who both finished in 10th.