SUWANEE - Buford had never had a wrestler win the Gwinnett County tournament. On Saturday, it got two county champs.
Billy Anderton won the 135-pound title, and Scottie Forrester claimed the 152-pound championship.
"It feels good knowing we're able to do something for the Buford program other than football," said Forrester, who pinned North Gwinnett freshman Karl Rider in the third period.
Forrester won last year's Class AA state title, and winning the county championship, which features mostly AAAAA schools, proved he can hang with the state's best.
"It doesn't matter what classification you are in," Forrester said. "There's good wrestlers in all classifications. It's not how big of a school that you are that determines if you're a good wrestler."
Ever since he started wrestling in fourth grade, Anderton had always dreamed of winning two tournaments - Gwinnett County and state.
The Buford senior fulfilled one his goals on Saturday by beating Parkview's Alex Hillis 10-3.
"I felt pretty good coming in," Anderton said. "I've had a great season so far. My only loss was to (Eastside's) Trevor Bailey and it was a great match. I've been working really hard all season, so I'm happy to win this."
Anderton transferred from Mill Creek last year and took fourth at last year's county meet. He's never placed at the state meet at any level, so he's hoping Saturday's county title is the start of something good.
"I feel like this tournament could kick off a great season for me," Anderton said.
Hunt claims first county crown
Dacula's Noah Hunt won the Class AAAA state championship last year, but was second in the county and area tournaments.
Hunt is going for the triple crown this year and got off to a good start with a 7-5 win over Grayson's Nick Isburgh for the 119-pound title.
"This is the first time I've ever won county, so it's pretty neat," Hunt said.
Hunt lost in last year's county finals to Collins Hill's T.J. Mitchell. He had to hold off a late takedown by Isburgh to win this year's crown. It was Hunt's second win over Isburgh this season, two of the top wrestlers in the state in the 119-pound weight class.
"I beat him 6-1 in the dual, but I could tell he's gotten a lot better and has trained against some of my moves," Hunt said.
With the county title in hand, now Hunt has his sights set on an area title and defending his state championship.
"It's a nice title to have," Hunt said. "A lot of people call this tournament a mini state, so to win it is a big deal."
Doyague makes most of county meet
Collins Hill's Joseph Doyague didn't make the trip with the rest of Eagles' first team to The Clash in Minnesota on Friday.
The sophomore got beat out by teammate Caleb Sawchuck for the 119-pound spot. Collins Hill sent its No. 2 team to this weekend's county tournament and Doyague made the most of it, winning the 112-pound championship.
"This is a really good tournament, so it's an honor to win it," said Doyague, who was last year's 103-pound county champion.
The sophomore defeated Parkview's Robbie Kane 14-4 for the title.
Doyague was one of two county champions for the Eagles. Drew Ferguson, the younger brother of two-time county champ T.J. Mitchell, won the 103-pound title after pinning Brookwood's Sean Thomas in 37 seconds.
"It's pretty cool to be a county champ like he is," Ferguson said.
Brown dominates after scare
Devante Brown had a close match with Peachtree Ridge's Josh Bloodworth in the second round of the 125-pound weight class on Friday. The Central Gwinnett junior won 7-4, but didn't want to have another close match.
"I had it in my head I wasn't going to lose," Brown said.
Brown won by technical fall in the semifinals and then pinned Parkview's Clint Jones to win the county championship.
"It's an awesome feeling to know that I won this tournament," Brown said. "This is one of the tournaments I wanted to win this year and state."
Brown becomes the first Central wrestler to win a county title since 2001 when David Canlela won.
"I've been working my butt off, so I thought I had a good shot of winning," Brown said.
With the county title under his belt, Brown could do some damage at the state meet next month. He took fifth as a freshman two years ago.
"I think he has a real good shot of being in the state finals," Central coach Matthew Brickley said.
Epps gets surprising championship
Joe Epps still remembers sitting in the stands of the Gwinnett County tournament as a freshman wondering if he would ever be down there as a county champ.
The dream became a reality for the Brookwood senior on Saturday.
Epps won the 130-pound title with a second period pin over Greater Atlanta Christian's Travis Elrod.
"It's very surprising. Last year I took sixth, so I never thought I would be here," Epps said. "I've always looked at other guys as the ones to be beat. I don't mean this to sound cocky, but I guess I've become one of the guys to beat."
Epps, who improved to 23-3, was very happy for the win, but was realistic in knowing that Collins Hill's Joel Smith, a state runner-up last year, was not at the tournament.
"I appreciate the victory, but it's sort of a hollow win with Collins Hill not being here," Epps said. "I'll see how I do the rest of year and in the sectionals, and I hope the rest of the year feels like today."
Academy training leads George to title
Zach George didn't place at the county tournament and was never really a factor in the Gwinnett County wrestling scene last year.
This year the Grayson junior has become one of the top wrestlers in the state, and he credits most of it to his offseason training with Dustin Kawa's The Wrestling Academy.
"A lot of hard work over the summer," George said of the turnaround. "I wrestled freestyle and worked out at the Academy."
George defeated Collins Hill's Josiah Connell 4-0 to win the 140-pound county championship.
"He's gotten a lot better," George said of Connell. "I teched him over the summer and this match I only beat him by four. I just took him down and sort of rode it out from there."
George is 28-2 this season with his only losses coming from wrestlers from South Carolina and Tennessee.
"Coming in, I was predicted to win it," George said. "When the No. 2 seed got beat I knew I was in good shape."