Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Archer's Chris Diaz takes on Brookwood's Wyatt Jozwowski in a 132 pound weight class match up during the Area 8-AAAAAA Duals wrestling championships at Archer High School. Archer defeated Brookwood 69-6.
The walls in Archer's wrestling room are still pretty bare.
The fourth-year program has a spot designated for state champions, but there's only one name there right now.
Head coach Tom Beuglas hopes his team can add to that wall this weekend.
Archer is the favorite going into this weekend's Class AAAAAA traditional state tournament at the Macon Centreplex. The Tigers qualified all 14 wrestlers and could have as many as five state champions on Saturday.
"We want to fill up that wall," Beuglas said.
Archer won the dual state championship last month against Camden County. The Tigers will battle Camden again and five-time defending state champion Collins Hill for the traditional title.
"Realistically, I think it is a three-team race between Archer, Camden County and Collins Hill," Beuglas said. "Collins Hill has some excellent wrestlers that will be in the finals and score a lot of points, but they do not have as many kids qualified as us and Camden County. Camden has more depth and will probably place more wrestlers than Collins Hill, but probably won't have as many champs. Hopefully, we have more placers and more champs than either team."
Collins Hill is in a similar position as last year. The Eagles qualified nine wrestlers again, but likely won't put seven in the finals like a year ago.
"I still feel like we got a shot, but there's very little room for error," Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said.
In additional to defending state champions Sean Russell and Ryan Millhof reaching the finals again, Stephen believes Codi Russell and Griffin Riley can make it to the championship match.
"I feel like we've got a chance to get a lot through," Stephen said.
The Eagles are going to need all the help they can get to stop Archer. The Tigers could place 10 to 12 of their 14 wrestlers and put five in the finals.
"That's really the biggest thing. I think we can match them with finalists, but they are going to have so many that will score and place for them," Stephen said. "We're going to need some help from other teams."
Archer has won every in-state tournament this season, including the Gwinnett County championship, the Area 8-AAAAAA championship and the dual state title. Ernest Alexander is the program's only state champion.
The senior will try to defend his 195-pound title this weekend. He could be joined on Archer's wall of champions by freshmen Chris Diaz (132), Daniel Bullard (138) and Thomas Bullard (145) and junior M.J. Couzan (285). All four are ranked No. 1 in their weight classes going into the state tournament.
"We have five wrestlers that are ranked No. 1 in their weight class going into the tournament, but rankings do not win matches," Beuglas said. "You have to go out there and get the job done."
Outside of Archer and Collins Hill, Central Gwinnett's Leivon Lewis (145), Peachtree Ridge's Karar Alasady (145), Parkview's Khalil Shakur (160), North Gwinnett's Jalen Brooks (220) and Wesleyan's Rhett Delk (170) are all in contention for state titles.