Photo by Ben Beitzel

Photo by Ben Beitzel

ATLANTA -- Tuesday evening Class AAAAA swimming finals got off to an ominous start for the two-time defending champion Brookwood boys, who were disqualified for an early start in the 200-yard medley relay.

The Broncos threw away the 26 points that relay would have scored, while watching rival Peachtree Ridge celebrate a championship in the meet's first race. If that mistake shook them up, it didn't last long.

Brookwood won its third straight AAAAA boys state title -- and Gwinnett's 11th straight -- with 241 points over a hard-charging Peachtree Ridge boys team that finished second with 193 points.

"It's definitely nice, a nice tradition," Brookwood coach Greg Puckett said. "It's just nice to keep it up and not just say, one and out or two and out. It's great to sustain it and win three in a row."

It took a steady effort for the Broncos, who won just one individual event but had a depth advantage at the top over the runner-up Lions. It was still an amazing showing by a Peachtree Ridge team that only had four swimmers and diver Michael Russell score points in the meet.

Luke Upchurch was the meet's top performer, helping the Lions to their best-ever finish. He won both his individual races and both his relays, reaching his goal of four gold medals.

"It's amazing (to finish second as a team) because we've only got four guys," Upchurch said. "We've only got four guys and Brookwood has all those guys, so getting second is a big deal. And all four of us are juniors so we'll be back next year."

Brookwood's Conor Sweeney, a two-time champion as a junior, was third in the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 41.21 seconds, an automatic All-American time. Ken Bolton (sixth) and Aidan Sweeney (eighth) also scored in the 200 free.

Robbie Swan was fourth in the 50 free, up from 16th in that event last year, and Michael Trice took fifth along with placing ninth in the 100 free. Swan was fifth in the 100 free and Bolton was seventh in that race. Thomas Nguyen added a fourth-place finish in the 100 back for the Broncos.

Conor Sweeney added a state runner-up finish in the 500 free and younger brother Aidan was seventh.

The Broncos' only event title was a win in the 200 freestyle relay, with the foursome of Swan, Trice and the Sweeney brothers swimming 1:28.18, an automatic All-American time. Swan and the Sweeney brothers joined Bolton for a second-place finish in the 400 free relay.

"I know some of them weren't happy with their individual swims, but it was consistent swimming (that won it)," Puckett said. "They swam so well in prelims that they put themselves in position to win it."

But the Peachtree Ridge boys also were motivated and opened the meet with a state championship in the 200 medley relay, winning in an automatic All-American time of 1:35.95. The winning foursome featured Upchurch, Bryce BeVier, John Simmons and Bradley Faxon, and the four juniors matched their feat in the meet-ending 400 free relay by winning in 3:09.91.

Upchurch was the individual star, winning the 100 free in 46.56 and the 100 backstroke in 50.85.

"Upchurch is something else," Peachtree Ridge coach Jeremy Laird said.

Laird's team also got individual points from Simmons (fourth in the 200 free, third in the 100 free) and BeVier (third in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 100 breaststroke), moving up two spots from fourth place overall last season.

"It's very satisfying," Laird said. "Those boys have been talking about the 200 medley and the 400 free relays since last year and they went out and won them. "To have five boys go out and perform so well is incredible."

North Gwinnett's Eric Madden won the 100 butterfly state championship with an automatic All-American time of 50.67, improving on his fifth-place finish from 2009. Duluth's Paul Leddon was fourth in that race.

Parkview's Ricky Lehner gave Gwinnett another individual champion, whipping the field in the 100 breaststroke in 57.62 seconds, an automatic All-American time. Freshman teammate Geoffrey Carter also provided a surprise for the Panthers, surging to third place in the 100 breast.

Lehner also was eighth in the 200 IM.

Their efforts highlighted a sixth-place team finish by Parkview.

Collins Hill's Justin Robinson was runner-up in the 50 free in 21.54 seconds, just behind the 21.51 of Walton's Ben Shepperd, and fourth in the 100 free. Teammate Carl Anderson was sixth in the race, a spot ahead of Mill Creek freshman Chris Powell, and eighth in the 100 free.

The Eagles finished eighth in the team standings, just ahead of North Gwinnett, which also got big points from Michael Peribonio (fourth in the 200 IM and sixth in the 100 back).

Mill Creek's Parker Schwab was sixth in the 200 IM and eighth in the 500 free as the Hawks were 10th in the team standings. Duluth (tie for 15th) and Dacula (19th) also had top-20 finishes in the team standings.

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