Buford’s Rudy Guillen celebrates his victory over Greater Atlanta Christian’s Carter Clinebell in the 145 weight class of the Gwinnett County wrestling championship Saturday at Dacula. (Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
DACULA — Forget that two of Gwinnett’s top high school wrestling programs did not participate in this year’s county championship meet, while a third was only minimally represented.
The team title won by Buford in this year’s meet Saturday at Dacula High School was a big deal.
Buoyed by individual titles from Rudy Guillen at 145 pounds and Chip Ness at 195, the Wolves claimed their first-ever county championship with 168.50 points, outlasting runner-up Grayson’s total of 153 and Greater Atlanta Christian’s 150.
It also made Buford the first county champion other than Archer, Collins Hill or Parkview since 1996, when Shiloh took home the crown.
“I still want to hear the team scores,” Buford coach Rob Carlyle said after the final match of the day while awaiting the official announcement. “That’s huge for our community and Buford High School and administration and athletic department. It’s a big deal.
“It’s one of our goals, and then (winning) area and then state. One of our team goals was to do well here. We’re here, and we want to win it.”
And the Wolves reached that first goal by placing five wrestlers — more than any other team — into the individual weight class finals to build up a big lead, with Guillen and Ness dominating their brackets to help salt away the team title.
“It felt great to work together as a team,” said Guillen, who pinned all four of his opponents in the two-day tournament, including scoring a fall with three seconds left in the second period in the championship match against GAC’s Carter Clinebell. “It was just amazing what we could do together. It was just incredible. I’ve never experience that before.”
Guillen had never experienced an individual title either until Saturday after sitting out the tournament the past two years while he got himself into shape following football season.
But this season, he gave up football to concentrate on wrestling — a move that paid off Saturday, and one he hopes will pay off further down the road.
“My thought was to go one tournament at a time and not worry about the outcome yet,” said Guillen, who raised his season record to 29-2.
Likewise, Ness did not participate in last year’s county meet after winning a county title the previous two years.
But the senior made a strong return by pinning his first three opponents before scoring a 17-2 technical fall over Berkmar’s Mamadou Soumahoro to win the championship at 195 pounds.
More importantly, it was a strong start to the high school season for Ness after sitting out a month with a foot injury.
“Honestly, I liked (the finals) match better than (the others),” Ness said. “When I wrestle, I don’t assess myself based on the points. It’s more how I feel and how I set up my style and my fundamentals. I almost felt like I wrestled worse in my semifinal match (a fall over Lanier’s Jeremy Taylor in 3:55). … I tried to force things instead of making them happen.
“I’m actually more proud of our team than anything. I’d never have thought we would’ve been here.”
The Wolves also got runner-up finishes from Eli Hartley at 106 pounds, Darius Bunch at 120 and Brayden Hartley at 132.
Those finishes and three other top-six finishes helped Buford build up a big enough lead to fend off Grayson, which was paced by a county title from Davion Radford, who decisioned Archer’s Avery Grizzle 5-1 in the 138-pound final, and a runner-up finish from Nigel Jones at 113.
Four other teams had two individual county champions, with Mountain View getting titles from Justin George at 113 and Adam Flatt at 120, while North Gwinnett had titles from Todd Small (106) and Hunter Franklin (132), Peachtree Ridge placed Kareim Alasady (126) and Able Leonardo (160) atop the winner’s podium and Duluth got titles from Rodney Jones (170) and Alex Brown (220).
Other individual weight class champions included Brookwood’s Stephen Solamon (182), Berkmar’s Ethan Castaneda (152) and Mill Creek’s Bobby Klemm (285).
Gwinnett Co. Wrestling Championships
- Buford 168.5
- Grayson 153
- GAC 150
- Meadowcreek 136
- Mountain View 121
- Peachtree Ridge 120
- Brookwood 118.5
- Dacula 107.5
- Berkmar 96
- Mill Creek 87
- Archer 85
- North Gwinnett 61
- Central Gwinnett 60
- Duluth 59
- Norcross 35
- Lanier 26.5
- South Gwinnett 11
- Shiloh 9
106 pounds: Todd Small (NG) dec. Eli Hartley (Buf.), 6-2
113: Justin George (MV) dec. Nigel Jones (Gray.), 6-5
120: Adam Flatt (MV) dec. Darius Bunch (Buf.), 6-2
126: Kareim Alasady (PR) dec. Raymond Washington (Mead.), 4-2
132: Hunter Franklin (NG) dec. Brayden Hartley (Buf.), 4-1
138: Davion Radford (Gray.) dec. Avery Grizzle (Arch.), 5-1
145: Rudy Guillen (Buf.) fall Carter Cllinebell (GAC), 3:57
152: Ethan Castaneda (Berk.), dec. Adeniyi Henderson-Harden (Mead.), 3-1
160: Abel Leonardo (PR) dec. Jose Fanfan (CG), 4-2
170: Rodney Jones (Dul.) forfeit Antonio Bailey (Mead.)
182: Stephan Solamon (Brook.) fall Octavin Jarda (MV), 2:40
195: Chip Ness (Buf.) tech. fall Mamadou Soumahoror (Berk.), 17-2
220: Alex Brown (Dul.) fall Jose Acosta (Berk.), 0:51
285: Bobby Klemm (MC) dec. Dallas Hadley (Dac.), 5-4 (2 OT)