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Parkview boys repeat as state champs

ATLANTA - Gwinnett County's complete dominance of the Class AAAAA boys state swimming and diving championships continued on Saturday afternoon.

Gwinnett high schools swept the top five spots in the team standings at Westminster, making the competition in the state's largest classification look more like the county meet.

At the top of the heap was Parkview, Gwinnett's most dominant boys team, which posted a strong team effort on a day where Peachtree Ridge's Scott Royal ruled individually with two state championships.

The Panthers repeated as AAAAA boys state champions and continued what has turned into a big-time dynasty with their sixth state title in the past eight years and eighth overall since 1995.

Parkview's win also extended an astonishing streak for the county - Gwinnett boys teams have won the past eight AAAAA boys team state crowns.

"I felt there was a lot more pressure this year because we were the favorites," Parkview coach Jack Gayle said. "Last year we didn't think we'd have a shot. But this year we were doing well all season. Coming into the meet we knew we were favored, but Brookwood has that really strong core group of guys. We knew they'd put up a fight and they did. They swam really well.

"But I was really proud of the way our guys swam. Andrew (Ruffing) winning that fly is what really lit the fire under them."

The event Gayle referred to was the 100 butterfly, the fifth boys event of the day. Propelled by a speedy final 25 yards, Ruffing won the Parkview boys' only individual race of the day in 51.34 seconds.

The Parkview sophomore said he felt the energy lifted after his race, but added that the incentive of defeating rival Brookwood also was huge. The Panthers won with 254 points while their rival Broncos took second with 208 points. Collins Hill, Grayson and Norcross rounded out the top-five boys teams in AAAAA.

"(Brookwood) was really close to us," said Ruffing, who also was second in the 50 free in 21.62. "Before the meet started, coach told us 'Brookwood's never won a (boys) state championship. We're not going to let it happen this year.' We didn't. You can't lose to a rival."

The Panthers did win a relay state championship in the 200 free at 1:27.50.

Ruffing was joined on that foursome by his brother Mason Ruffing, Collin Burchins and George Partin.

Parkview, which added a second-place showing in the 400 free relay, also got good meets from Mason Ruffing (fourth, 100 fly and seventh, 200 free), Burchins (fifth, 200 IM and sixth, 100 breaststroke), Partin (fifth, 100 free and sixth, 50 free) and Kyle Newhouse (seventh, 500 free).

Only one Gwinnett boy took home two individual titles on Saturday - Peachtree Ridge's Royal. The senior closed his career in style, repeating as state champ in the 500 free (4:38.87) after earlier claiming first in the 200 free (1:42.55).

"I kind of felt pressure that I had to do it again (in the 500 free)," said Royal, whose points helped his team to 10th place. "I wanted to finish it out well and I did, so I'm really happy."

The Brookwood boys surged to second place by a comfortable margin over Collins Hill.

They won the day's first race as the foursome of Kyle Diedrich, Zach Lopez, Danny Nguyen and Stephen Swan won the 200 medley relay state title in 1:38.49.

Dean Hupman (second, 500 free and fourth, 200 free), Swan (fifth, 200 free), Nguyen (fourth, 200 IM and sixth, 100 fly), Lopez (third, 100 breast and sixth, 200 IM) and Diedrich (fourth, 100 back) all posted high finishes for the Broncos.

Jared Robinson led Collins Hill to third place with a state championship in the 100 free at 46.78. He also was third in the 200 free while teammate Nat Emmett was second in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 breast.

Grayson, with three powerful relays, finished in fourth place, just two points behind Collins Hill. The Rams won the meet-ending 400 free relay as Ryan Pech, Andrew Kendall, Jeremy Love, Michael Brindley won state in 3:12.67.

The Rams, who also placed second in the two other relays, also got good individual efforts from Pech (third, 50 free), Love (fifth, 100 fly) and Brindley (fourth, 100 free). Norcross finished in fifth place behing Scott Aron (fourth, 500 free and sixth, 200 free), Sean Bagent (third, 500 free and eighth, 200 free), Andrew Feeney (seventh, 200 IM and seventh, 100 breast) and Kevin Spiwak (sixth, 100 back).

The young Blue Devils are considered a force for the coming years, but the AAAAA boys team of the present is Parkview.

"We've had so much turnover the last couple of years, that's what has impressed me so much about this group of guys," Gayle said. "Losing a good group of guys last year, we were really wondering how good we would be this year. I'm just impressed that these guys keep stepping up to the plate."