Staff Photo: John Bohn Ernest and Fawn Alexander, left and center, celebrate their son Ernest Alexander's state championship wrestling victory in Macon on Saturday. Alexander, of Archer High School, defended his 195 pound class AAAAAA state title, to remain undefeated this season. To the right of Fawn Alexander is Fernando Diaz.
MACON -- As Tom Beuglas walked around the Macon Centreplex the last three days, the Archer wrestling coach was asked the same question from opposing coaches and fans.
"I can't tell you how many people have come up and said, 'What are you doing over there? Because it must be working," Beuglas said.
Archer won the Class AAAAAA traditional state championship on Saturday in just its fourth year of existence. The Tigers set the state record for most points scored, had 12 state placers and four state champions.
"I thought we would be good (this year), but I didn't think we would do that and set the state record for points scored," said Beuglas, who also won state titles at Parkview in 2004 and 2006.
Archer scored 250 points to win the title, ending Collins Hill's five-year run as state champions. The Eagles were second with 118.5 points to edge Camden County, which was third with 117.5. North Gwinnett (58) was fifth for the second straight year and Parkview (48) was ninth.
Gwinnett County had 15 wrestlers in the finals and finished with 11 state champs, tying the county record set in 2009.
"I told them, 'This is the beginning. This isn't the end,'" Beuglas said. "It's something exciting. I think we represented the school well."
Archer had a 112.5 point lead going into the finals and the team championship secured. The finals were icing on the cake with seven from Archer in the championship.
"My dream was to get all of my teammates in the finals, but seven is great," senior Ernest Alexander said.
Alexander (195), M.J. Couzan (285), Daniel (138) and Thomas (145) Bullard were state champions for the Tigers.
"This has been the best season," Alexander said. "We have a group of guys that want to work, so it makes it easy."
Alexander, who will play football at Navy next year, defended his state title with a 1:52 pin.
"It's just a lot of hard work from the beginning that's starting to pay off," Alexander said.
Couzan won the 285-pound state title with a 5-3 victory over South Forsyth's Michael Scullin. The 6-foot-5, 265 pounder plays right tackle on the football team and has lost 30 pounds since football season. He has drawn interest from several major Division I schools.
"It's amazing," Couzan said of the title as he fought back his emotions. "I've been working hard for this for three years and I didn't know it would pay off so fast."
Twin brothers Daniel and Thomas Bullard won the first of what may be many state titles for the freshmen. Older brother Sam took third at 120 pounds. Daniel and Thomas are the third pair of brothers to win state titles in the same season from Gwinnett. Collins Hill's T.J. Mitchell and Drew Ferguson-Mitchell in 2010 and Duluth's Henry and Ben Finley in 1979 also won titles.
"I'm pretty excited for their family," Beuglas said. "You don't get good as a ninth-grader overnight."
Grant Aycox (126), Chris Diaz (132) and Zach Wright (152) were runner-ups. DaQuan Olbert (113) and Sam Bullard (120) were third, Hunter McCleskey (220) was fourth, Orlando Nawade (160) was fifth and Elliot Lee (170) was sixth.
Freshman Vinny Artigues (106) and senior Robby Kwarteng (182) also qualified for the state tournament.
Archer won 12 of 13 tournaments it competed in this season, including the Gwinnett County and Area 8 championships. The Tigers won the dual state championship and finished the season with a 25-0 record. The only tourney the Tigers didn't win was the Granite City Invitational in Illinois, where it placed third.
The state title could be the first of many for Archer, which returns eight starters. The Tigers also had four freshman in the starting lineup.
"We're going to try to repeat this next year and many more years to come," Couzan said.