Four Newton County wrestlers earned top-5 finishes this weekend at the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAAA and Class AAAA traditional state duals, with Newton’s A.J. Palomino taking home the county’s top prize with a second-place finish in the Class AAAAAA event.
Joining Palomino in the top five were Eastside’s Mitchell Troutman and Levi Leach, alongside Alcovy’s Kamari Williams.
In all, 12 different wrestlers represented the three schools at their respective state title events, as Newton finished 25th overall in the state in Class AAAAAA with 23 total points, while Alcovy finished in 34th place with 12 total points. The Eagles finished 12th overall in the Class AAAA tournament with 42 points, finishing behind Lithonia and Southeast Whitfield to remain just outside of the top 10.
Palomino leads the way
Palomino led all Newton County finishers with a second-place finish at 195 pounds, winning his first three matches before falling in the championship bout. Palomino posted pins in his first two matches, pinning Douglas County’s Michael Parris in 1:26 and Roswell’s Ryan Willis in 4:00.
The junior earned a 7-3 decision over Duluth’s Alex Brown before fall,ing in the title bout 3-2 in overtime to McEachern’s Christian Wade.
“I can’t express how happy I am that A.J. reached the finals,” Newton coach Ryan Angel said. “It all came down to the last 30 seconds in overtime. This should be a valuable experience for him and a great learning moment. As long as he continues to work hard and continues to do the things he has been working on, he’s going to be in a great position to be back here next year. He took huge strides forward and I only expect that to continue.”
Eduardo Jarquin opened his 106-pound tournament run with a 10-2 major decision loss to North Gwinnett’s Todd Small, but rebounded with a 5-3 decision over Chattahoochee’s Ethan Phillips. Jarquin’s tournament run ended in the second round of the consolation bracket, as he fell by pin to Camden County’s Adrian Hughes. Anthony Bradley (170) and Shaidren Carter (182) fell in both of their first two contests for the Rams at the state event.
“Our guys did an outstanding job battling through injury and adversity to make it here,” Angel said. “What they accomplished this season is going to go a long way in helping our program in the future.”
Alcovy senior Kamari Williams posted the Tigers’ best finish at the Class AAAAAA traditional duals, finishing fifth overall in the 195-pound weight class.
Williams posted back-to-back wins against Douglas County’s Demond Wareham (16-4 major decision) and Chattahoochee’s Sean Hoffman (10-7 decision) before stumbling against North Forsyth’s Austin Thornton in a 3-2 decision in the third round.
Williams fell by a 10-8 decision to Berkmar’s Mamadou Soumahoro, but rebounded in his next match with a 4-1 decision over Lassiter’s Phillip Murray to finish inside of the top five.
Alcovy’s Parafait Fondseyuf earned a 5-3 decision over Etowah’s Bronson Rechsteiner in the 170-pound opening round, but fell by a 6-5 decision to Duluth’s Rodney Jones.
Fondseyuf recovered with a 5-4 decision over Archer’s Garrett Miller, but his tournament run ended with an 11-6 defeat at the hands of Valdosta’s Gilliard.
Darryl Nichols rounded out Alcovy’s representatives at the traditional duals, falling in both of his matches.
Troutman, Leach place
Leading the Eagles at the Class AAAA event, Troutman earned a third-place finish, going 4-1 overall in the 182-pound bracket.
Troutman picked up a pair of pins over Crisp County’s Gregory Harvey and Stephens County’s Devin Burns before falling to Southeast Whitfield’s Austin Allen in 4:43 in the third round. Troutman responded with back-to-back victories over Fayette County’s Kimani Nasrullah and West Lauren’s Kameron Jackson, pinning Nasrullah in 2:26 and Jackson in 3:35.
Leach earned a fourth -place finish at 120 pounds, defeated Marist’s Caleb Barlik by pin in 1:40 in his opening-round match. Leach squeaked by Cross Creek’s Brandon Dowling 5-2 in the second round, but fell by pin to Southeast Whitfield’s Omar Ruiz.
Leach went 1-1 in his final two matches, pinning Chamblee’s Yalwalker Eshete in 3:31 before dropping a 6-2 decision to Cass’s Hunter Quinn.
Rod Boley, Meisha Felton and Matt Malcom also picked up individual tournament victories for the Eagles, finishing in the top 12 of the 106-, 126- and 132-pound brackets, respectively.
"I was proud of how the team did this year and I feel as though this was another successful season for Eastside wrestling," Eagles coach Earl Larimer said. "We had some injuries this year and lost some solid wrestlers this season and yet still managed to have a good year. To lose some of the guys we lost and still finish in the top-12 at state at the end of the year, with five state qualifiers and two state placers, is a testament to that and to the work that our guys put in and the resiliency that they had."