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Jonesboro's state title run among 2003's top sports stories

By Anthony Rhoads

Throughout its history, going to the state tournament has been a rarity for Jonesboro but in the last two years it's become a habit.

In 2003, the Jonesboro boys advanced all the way to the Class AAAAA state championship game before losing 63-56 to Wheeler. The previous season, the Cardinals made it to the semifinals.

The Riverdale girls also had a successful run in 2003 as they made it to the Class AAAAA Final 4.

Other local teams that made it to state in 2003 were the Stockbridge boys, the Morrow boys and girls, the Jonesboro girls, the Lovejoy boys and the North Clayton girls.

Here is a glance at some other top local sports stories in 2003:

nUnion Grove's Candler Woods won the Class AA state wrestling championship in the 140-pound division. He was the second wrestler in Union Grove's short history to win a state title. Union Grove also placed in the top 10 in the team scores at the Class AA wrestling meet and also advanced to the Class AA State Duals.

Henry County and Jonesboro also made it to the Class AAAAA State Duals in 2003.

nThe Lovejoy football team had a perfect regular season in 2003. The Wildcats breezed through its regular season slate and advanced to the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

Other football teams making it to state in 2003 were Mt. Zion, Riverdale and Union Grove but they all fell in the first round.

nRiverdale boys basketball coach Ken Ross retired after the 2003 season. The legendary coach retired as the winningest coach in Clayton County history and as one of the winningest coaches in the state.

In other coaching changes, Union Grove head football coach Scott Mason resigned in 2003 but he will stay on as the school's athletic director. Mason guided the Wolverines to a 17-26-1 record in four years, including a 10-3 campaign in 2002 where the Wolverines made it to the quarterfinals of the Class AA state playoffs.

Eagle's Landing head baseball and softball coach Blake Lyons stepped down in 2003. As co-head coach with Donnie Byrom in 1999, he guided the Eagle's Landing softball team to a state title.

nSeveral softball teams made it to state in 2003, including Eagle's Landing, Jonesboro, Stockbridge, Luella and Union Grove. Stockbridge advanced to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals for the third straight year while Union Grove made it all the way to the Class AA semifinals. Luella made it to the Class AAA state sectionals in its first year of existence and Jonesboro advanced to the Class AAAAA state sectionals for the second year in a row.

nThe Jonesboro volleyball team dominated the local scene in 2003. The Lady Cardinals went undefeated through the Area 2-AAAAA tournament, falling only when they made it to the state tournament.