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County wrestling tournament wide open

For the last 15 years, Collins Hill and Parkview have been the only teams to win the Gwinnett County wrestling championship.

That streak will likely end on Saturday.

Parkview has won the title the last three years, but is wrestling a young squad this year and is just hoping for a top five finish.

Collins Hill hasn't sent its starting varsity to the tournament the last three years. The team has competed in the Midwest Classic in Kansas City and will do so again this weekend.

That leaves the door open for a handful of teams to win their first county championship.

Archer is the favorite going into the tournament, but Peachtree Ridge, North Gwinnett, Brookwood and Greater Atlanta Christian are also in the mix.

"I felt pretty good about it until this past weekend," Archer head coach Tom Beuglas said.

The Tigers lost their only senior Isaiah Hunt, who was 18-1, with a torn hamstring. Reed Clark will be out for a few weeks with an injured shoulder.

"I would have felt pretty good until we lost them," Beuglas said. "That's at least 25 points and that can be the difference in first place and sixth."

Archer placed third at the county meet last season and has been one of the state's top teams this season. The Tigers have won four of the five tournaments they've competed in this season. Their only loss is to defending state champion Collins Hill.

"We've been rolling along pretty good up until this point," Beuglas said.

Archer is led by Ernest Alexander (195 pounds), Hunter McCleskey (220), Sam Bullard (113) and Daquan Olbert (120).

Alexander is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in his weight class with a 21-1 record. His only loss is to the top-ranked wrestler in Alabama. McCleskey is 22-1, freshman Bullard is 22-2 and Olbert, who placed sixth at state last year, is 22-2.

It appeared North Gwinnett had ended Parkview and Collins Hill's dominance at last year's county meet. The Bulldogs were crowned tournament champs, but had the title revoked. It was revealed after the tournament that it had not been scored properly, bumping Parkview to champion and North to fourth place.

"I hope they got that figured out," Beuglas said with a laugh.

Archer's biggest challenge for the county title will be Peachtree Ridge, North Gwinnett, Brookwood and Greater Atlanta Christian.

"I can see it being close with a couple of teams," Beuglas said.

Peachtree Ridge has some of the state's top wrestlers and led by returning county champion Tre Horton. Mac Shiver, Brandon Smith and Nick Hoang will also contend for county crowns.

Brookwood has won three tournaments this season, including last weekend's Brookwood Invitational.

Greater Atlanta Christian is one of the state's top teams in Class AA and finished eighth at last year's county meet, the highest finish ever for the program.

"I think they can win it," Beuglas said. "They are pretty tough at every weight."

Shiloh's Ryan Mosley and Buford's Chip Ness also return as county champs. Mosley is 23-0 this season and has only given up two points this season.

Archer is in its third season and a county title would make them the youngest program to ever win the crown.

"I think, like last year, it will be close," Beuglas said. "It looks like a lot of parity. There's not one team that jumps out."