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Bronco boys edge Parkview for crown

Photo by Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips

Photo by Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips

CARROLLTON -- The boys cross country rivalry between Brookwood and Parkview has gone back and forth this season like a pair of championship boxers going toe-to-toe in a title fight.

The final round, and the split decision, went to Brookwood on Saturday in the Class AAAAA state meet at Carrollton High School.

With three runners placing in the top 10, the Gwinnett County-champion Broncos avenged their runner-up finish in last week's Region 8-AAAAA meet to claim their second straight title with 47 points, outdistancing the second-place Panthers' total of 73 points.

"(Parkview) won (at) Berry, we won county, they won region, so I guess it was (Brookwood's turn)," Broncos coach Brad Dehnke said. "The loss at region stung. The guys really wanted to do well coming off of that loss. In some ways, if we don't lose at region, I don't know if we're as fired up (Saturday). It really was a motivator."

While most eyes were on the team battle between the two archrivals, another Gwinnett runner stole the show in the individual race.

Peachtree Ridge's Josh Brickell, who had missed last month's county meet while recovering from an illness, passed Parkview's Alec Klassen the second time around the course and cruised home with the individual title with a time of 15:44, 18 seconds ahead of Klassen.

"I didn't run county, and I didn't race against (the Brookwood or Parkview) guys all year," Brickell said. "So I guess I did (kind of fly under the radar)."

The sophomore, who helped the Lions to a third-place finsh with 121 points, and Klassen led a Gwinnett sweep of the top eight individual places, with Brookwood earning three of those places from Morgan Malanoski (fourth, 16:16), Michael Giuliano (fifth, 16:18) and Jackson Wearn (seventh, 16:21).

Parkview had two runners in the top 10 with Klassen and Steven Spevacek (sixth, 16:18), while Peachtree Ridge had Brickell and Matt Weickert (eighth, 16:23) also had a pair of individuals in the group.

Mill Creek's Austin Boetje rounded out the initial Gwinnett group by placing third with a time of 16:09.

Throw in Collins Hill's fourth-place finish with 173 points, paced by Andy Gonzales' 16th-place individual finish at 16:38, and Gwinnett teams swept the first four spots in the team standings.

And with Grayson placing 10th led by Cory Cown (15th, 16:37), it was a good day for Gwinnett's contingent. But ultimately, the day belonged to Brookwood, thanks not only to their three top-eight runners, but also strong finishes from the No. 4 and 5 spots from Matt Barudin and Zac Brooks, who finished a second apart in 17th and 18th respectively, plus 21st-place finish out of its first non-scoring runner in Gabe Gomez.

"It really was a collective effort," Behnke said. "Morgan Malanoki exceeded expectations a big by finishing fourth, but it was just solid contributions from all seven of us (Saturday)."