Grayson wrestler Nick DiStasio, bottom, makes a move on Parkview's Khalil Shakur in a 160 pound match during the Area 8-AAAAA Duals finals wrestling matches held at Grayson High School Saturday. Grayson's DiStasio defeated Parkview's Shakur with a score of 3-1.
LOGANVILLE -- A season filled with firsts yielded yet another one for the Archer wrestling team in the Area 8-AAAAA dual-meet championships.
Just weeks after claiming their first Gwinnett County meet championship, the Tigers claimed their first area duals title -- the first region title in any sport at the 3-year-old school -- with three convincing victories Saturday at Grayson High School.
Archer (28-3) rolled through South Gwinnett (66-9) and Grayson (58-15) before downing Brookwood 55-6 in the title meet to claim the area's top seed at next week's Class AAAAA state dual-meet championships.
The title comes a year after the Tigers earned their first state berth with a runner-up finish, and coach Tom Beuglas credits that experience with giving his team the confidence to rise to the next level Saturday.
"Last year, we lost a close one (in the area finals) to Parkview," said Beuglas, who was head coach at Parkview before starting the Archer program three years ago. "Most of them, at least, got a taste of what it's like, and we have almost all of them back from last year.
"I think the difference is (that) last year, they kind of learned how to win. This year, they expect to win."
Those expectations didn't lower any even after Brookwood took a 3-0 lead after Blake Cunningham's 5-3 win over M.J. Couzan at 285 pounds in the opening match.
In fact, if anything, those expectations rose further, according to Beuglas.
"Cunningham is the county champion, and our kid was on J.V. (most of the season)," Beuglas said. "So, for us to lose a close match there was a victory. We had a couple J.V. kids wrestle. Both of them lost, but they lost close matches. That was all we could ask for."
It didn't take long for Archer to get those team points back, and then some, as Gio Fernandez outpointed Brookwood's Ezekiel Johnson 10-6 at 106 pounds and Sam Bullard scored a pinfall of Drew McCorkle in 34 seconds to push the Tigers in front to stay at 9-3.
From there, Archer won several closely-contested matches -- including one-point victories by DaQuan Olbert and Jalen McCorvey at 145 -- to go along with with extra-point wins like Zach Wright's 14-2 major decision at 138 and Robby Kwarteng's pin at 170 to run away with the match, and the title.
The Broncos (26-4), meanwhile, bounced back to claim the area's No. 2 seed with a 45-18 win over archrival Parkview in the consolation finals.
Facing a Panthers team with plenty of momentum off a thrilling 31-30 win over Grayson in their previous elimination match, Brookwood had all they could handle coming of its loss to Archer.
"I was proud of the way we fought against Archer," Brookwood coach Chris Cicora said. "The matches didn't go our way, but they were close losses, and I can live with that. As long as you're not giving up bonus points, you can stay in it.
"It's very difficult to come back from a loss in the finals and wrestle a team for true second place. (Parkview) got momentum, and we were emotionally broke from that last meet. I still don't think the boys wrestled their best, but they pulled out a victory. So, I'm very proud of them for that -- for keeping an even keel."
The meet with Parkview was on fairly even terms until a key sequence in the middle weight classes, when Gordon Lopez gained a pin at 145 and Ben Petty followed with a major decision win at 152 to give the Broncos plenty of breathing room in the team score at 21-9.
And with Brookwood's upper weight class wrestlers having rested after Archer clinched the title match, those individual were fresh and came up big against Parkview, with Caleb Harris' pinfall win at 182 pounds clinching the meet, and the state duals berth.