East­side High wrestling is just rid­ing the ul­ti­mate wave

The Covington News - - Sports -

I have a ques­tion for you: What if dreams of great­ness and courage were il­le­gal in this world? Well, if that were the case then the 2008 East­side High tra­di­tional wrestling state cham­pi­ons would not only be guilty of such a crime, but they would also be deemed as rugged out­laws.

In re­al­ity, this squad has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of all those in Cov­ing­ton, re­mind­ing them that all things are pos­si­ble through hard work, sweat, tears, pain, fear­less­ness and above all, heart.

The Ea­gles wres­tled their way to the top this sea­son with a sense of ur­gency, mak­ing an im­me­di­ate im­pact on all of those who have un­der­es­ti­mated and dis­missed them through­out the years.

When a group of tal­ented wrestlers such as the Ea­gles come to wres­tle, dom­i­na­tion is the only thing on their mind. Their record this sea­son of 385 over­all is mere proof of that.

But East­side know­ingly had un­fin­ished busi­ness in Class AAAA ac­tion. And the Ea­gles were de­ter­mined to com­plete the jour­ney that was started four years ago. That jour­ney be­gan with head coach Michael Foot-Smith, who took on the task of build­ing a great wrestling pro­gram.

Smith-Foot brought along a young coach named Bran­don Blake­man and few fresh­men wrestlers in the be­gin­ning of this con­struc­tion named

Ja­markus Griggs, Ardest Carter, Jon Palmer, Bran­don Cole and David Ben­der.

Along the way came Joel Stafford, Mike Green, Trevor Bai­ley, Pa­trick Ge­orge and Cody Dur­den, who trans­ferred from New­ton High last year. In ad­di­tion, brothers Dal­ton and Lin­coln Tem­ple and Karl Wil­liams, who re­turned af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury, rounded out the band of brothers, vow­ing to con­trib­ute their heart, soul and mind in build­ing a great team.

What Smith-Foot and Blake­man have cre­ated in terms of their la­bor is an in­cred­i­ble pro­gram, which took a great deal of sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion from both men for East­side wrestling to be­come what it is now.

But let’s not get it twisted; this team has had its fair share of heartaches and dis­ap­point­ments along the way, which they have en­dured to­gether as one. I wit­nessed this team bat­tle ill­nesses and in­juries for much of the sea­son. I also watched th­ese war­riors grunt, claw and ache from ev­ery move and counter-move that they dis­trib­uted and re­ceived in or­der to ob­tain the vic­tory or loss.

It is ap­par­ent that the Ea­gles prac­tice daily the way they per­form on the mat — ex­tremely ag­gres­sive yet stay­ing ahead of their op­po­nents men­tally at all times. Th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics are ev­i­dent of a deeper com­mit­ment not only to win­ning, but also in life and per­sonal achieve­ment.

I learned that wrestling takes power, pa­tience and intelligence. East­side showed much of that through­out its cham­pi­onship sea­son. As a re­sult, the Ea­gles have now raised the bar very high. They have left Class AAAA on their own terms and are now gear­ing to­ward con­quer­ing the AAA clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Re­al­iz­ing AAA is no walk in the park ei­ther, East­side will still com­pete at the high­est level since both clas­si­fi­ca­tions are just as com­pet­i­tive.

East­side will have to face Gilmer, the 2008 Class AAA tra­di­tional state cham­pi­ons, Henry County and Cass, who share the 2008 AAA duel state cham­pi­onship, Lovett, who won the state du­els in 2002 and 2003 and have 11 tra­di­tional state ti­tles and Dublin, who won the tra­di­tional ti­tle in 2002 and the duel ti­tle in 2004.

But this type of com­pe­ti­tion is noth­ing new to the Ea­gles. They have trudged through the val­ley of Class AAAA and emerged as cham­pi­ons. Al­though they will lose their tal­ented se­niors, they will be as strong and uni­fied as ever come next year.

I know that some of you think this is just a phase that East­side will grow out of. In fact, some will hope the Ea­gles will not be as suc­cess­ful as they were this sea­son and they will not re­peat as cham­pi­ons.

Af­ter all, it’s a good thing that dreams are not il­le­gal.

Eric L. McDon­ald


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