County meet up for grabs

Tom Beuglas can't think of a time when the Gwinnett County wrestling tournament has ever been as wide open as the one this weekend.

That's because in years past its been a two-team race between Beuglas' Parkview squads and Collins Hill.

This year there are as many as six teams that have a legitimate shot of winning the county championship thanks to No. 1 ranked Collins Hill going to an out of state tournament.

"The tournament will be interesting this season with Collins Hill sending most of its better kids to an out of state tournament," Beuglas said. "I think it will make the tournament much more wide open with four or five different teams that can compete for the title."

Defending state champion Collins Hill will compete in The Clash this weekend, a star-studded national tournament in Minnesota. The Eagles will send their No. 2 team to today's county tournament at North Gwinnett, leaving this year's tournament wide open.

"I think it has some teams licking their chops," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said.

Parkview's 11 county titles are the most by one school, so the Panthers are the traditional favorite. However, Dacula, Peachtree Ridge, Grayson, Wesleyan and Collins Hill's No. 2 team could all make a run for the championship.

"If we're healthy, I think we can make a run at it," Wesleyan coach Jeff Plunk said.

"I think everybody knows Collins Hill is one or two steps above everybody else, not just in the county, but probably in the state. So them being out of it opens it up for some other teams. It would be great for our little team and our little school to do well."

Wesleyan placed sixth last year and its best finish was third two years ago.

The county tournament begins at 5 p.m. today at North Gwinnett and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday. The finals are tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m.

Collins Hill had five wrestlers win county titles last year, but only Joseph Doyague will be back to defend his title. Shiloh's Billy Merfert is the only other returning county champ.

Since 1997, the county tournament has been dominated by Collins Hill and Parkview. The Panthers have won seven county titles during that time, including two of the last three, while the Eagles have claimed five.

"I think it's a wide open county tournament, which is going to make it fun," Plunk said.

SideBar: Wrestling

· What: Gwinnett County Championships

· When: Today, 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.

· Where: North Gwinnett