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Parkview, Brookwood set to defend titles

Since the meet features some of Georgia's top swimming and diving programs, the Gwinnett County Championships can produce some close finishes, both in individual races and the team

standings.

That was evident last year when the Brookwood girls edged Parkview by a mere 4.5 points, 478 to 473.5, for the county crown. It was the Broncos' third straight win at the county meet and eighth in the past nine years.

But they will be challenged again this weekend by a pack that includes rival Parkview, Mill Creek and North Gwinnett. The Panthers, with last season's close loss at county still fresh, appear to offer the biggest hurdle to a Brookwood team that is loaded with depth.

The meet begins today with swimming preliminaries, features diving on Friday and concludes with swimming finals on Saturday at Atlanta's Adamsville Natatorium.

Typically the swimming preliminaries and finals are on the same day, but splitting them up this year could produce faster times.

"The girls are going to have to find a way to overcome Brookwood," Parkview coach Jack Gayle said. "Brookwood is a deep team on the girls side and even though only four kids from each team can score, Brookwood has three or four girls in scoring position in nearly every event. Because of that, the relays will be key for us on the girls side.

"I know the girls are looking forward to it, they've shocked a lot of people this year considering they were 32nd at state only two years ago. They've also got that four-point loss to Brookwood last year on their minds, so I'm sure that's factored into their motivation as well."

Parkview is the only girls team that has cut into the Brookwood girls' impressive run of county success, and the goal is to repeat that feat this weekend. The Panthers are led by Haley Staubach (seeded second and third in her two events), Isabella Coutinho and Caitlin Martin.

Brookwood, which has slightly faster times in two of the three relays than Parkview, is led by Jana Mangimelli, the top seed in the 200 individual medley and the No. 2 seed in the 100 backstroke.

The road to the boys title goes through favored Parkview, which won last season at county to break Collins Hill's two-year hold on the crown. Prior to the Eagles' wins in 2004 and 2005, the Panthers had won the previous 11.

"A lot of kids are going to have to step up if we are going to win county," Gayle said. "The guys have a good chance, but they really need to lower their times going into state. The other county teams will definitely push them. I think this could be one of the fastest county meets ever because of the prelims/finals format so I'm looking forward to it."

Andrew Ruffing, Mason Ruffing and George Partin lead the Parkview boys, who will be tested by the trio of Brookwood, Collins Hill and Grayson.