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No new favorites at county
Bronco girls, Panther boys eye more titles

The Gwinnett County Swimming and Diving Championships have changed host locations several times over the years, but one constant has remained - the trophies always keep going to the same high schools.

That shouldn't change when Saturday's county finals are held at the Adamsville Natatorium in Atlanta. The favorites still come from those two schools, the Brookwood girls and the Parkview boys.

Except for Collins Hill's boys titles in 2004 and 2005, the two rivals off Five Forks Trickum Road have had a stranglehold on the county titles since the late 1980s.

The Parkview boys had won 13 county championships in a row until Collins Hill broke their streak, although the Panthers have won the last two and are favored for a third this weekend.

On the girls side, Brookwood has been the dominant team. The Broncos have won four years in a row at county, as well as eight of the last nine and 13 of the last 16. The only girls program to break their streaks was Parkview.

While the Brookwood girls are heavily favored this season, the boys side could be closer between Parkview and Brookwood.

"It should be a huge grudge match between the Parkview and Brookwood boys, which makes it fun," said Parkview coach Jack Gayle, who also swam on the Panthers' county title teams in the late 1990s. "I think it will come down to those two teams at county and state. As long as I've been doing this, as a coach and a swimmer, I can't remember a more evenly matched pairing for county and state titles than Parkview and Brookwood this year."

Parkview is led by Andrew Ruffing, who won two county titles last season and is the No. 1 seed in both his races this year, the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke. His best time in the 100 fly this season is 50.55 seconds, faster than the existing county meet record of 51.00 set in 2003 by Central Gwinnett's Jose Delgado.

The Panther boys also have the top time in the 200 medley relay at 1:38.54, although their strength is their depth, not how many individual events they win.

The same can be said for the Brookwood girls, who won last year at county despite having just one win in an individual event, Jana Mangimelli in the 100 back. Mangimelli is the top seed in her two events, the 200 individual medley (2:04.08) and the 100 back (57.67), an event where she will duel Parkview's Haley Staubach (58.41). Her best 100 back time is below the existing county record of 58.28, set in 2002 by the Broncos' Christie Hupman.

Brookwood is the top seed in all three relays and its top times in those events are all near county meet records. Both the Broncos' 200 medley (1:49.39) and 400 freestyle (3:36.08) are below the existing county meet records. Mill Creek's 400 free relay (3:37.77) also sports a time more than two seconds below the meet record.

Mill Creek and Parkview are the two teams expected to push Brookwood on the girls side. The Hawks are led by Jordan Evans, whose 56.41 in the 100 fly is just off Olympian Amanda Weir's county meet record of 56.37.

Brookwood doesn't have Weir, who led the team to four state titles from 2001 to 2004, but it doesn't lack for depth.

"I think that my girls really want to continue the streak (of county titles)," Brookwood coach Greg Puckett said. "As overwhelming as the number of championships may sound, most of them were not necessarily won in overwhelming fashion. There have been quite a few years where we just squeaked by. Two years ago was a good example, we only beat Parkview by four points."

Brookwood also could factor in the boys chase as one of a handful of schools chasing Parkview. That group also features Norcross and Mill Creek.

The Bronco boys are led by Danny Nguyen (the No. 1 seed in the 200 IM), Stephen Swan (No. 1 in the 100 free) and Zach Lopez (No. 1 in the 100 breaststroke).

Saturday also should feature a number of exciting individual races, including the girls 50 free, which pits Dacula's Abigail Alton (last year's Class AAAA/AAA/AA/A state champion) against Peachtree Ridge's Aileen Cole (last year's AAAAA state champ).

SideBar: County Swimming and Diving

· What: Gwinnett County Swimming and Diving Championships

· When: Today through Saturday

· Where: Diving at Mountain Park; Swimming at Adamsville Natatorium, Atlanta

· Defending champions: Brookwood girls, Parkview boys

· Schedule:

Today

· 3 p.m. - Swimming preliminaries at Adamsville

Saturday

· 3 p.m. - Swimming finals at Adamsville