Staff Photo: John Bohn Archer 132 pound class wrestler Chris Diaz celebrates his 6-4 victory over Camden County's Nathan Pristavec during the Class AAAAAA State Duals Wrestling championships on Saturday in Macon. Archer defeated Camden County 35-19 to win the Class AAAAAA State Duals Wrestling Championships
MACON -- Ernest Alexander ran off the wrestling mat and into a crowd of his Archer teammates as they slapped him on the back and gave him words of encouragement.
For Archer's first individual state state champion, it was only fitting that he secured the program's first team title.
"That was pretty cool. It's our first state champion sealing it for us," Archer head coach Tom Beuglas said.
Alexanders' pin over Camden County's Alex Diaz secured the Class AAAAAA dual state championship with a 35-19 win on Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.
"It means a lot," Alexander said. "It's great to win individually, but it feels a lot better to win as a team."
Archer is in its fourth year of existence and became the youngest school to win a state championship at the highest classification.
"When they all started as ninth-graders, that's what we told all of them," said Beuglas, who won a pair of state titles at Parkview.
Archer placed third at the state duals and traditional state last season. The Tigers built on that success this season with lineup that features eight seniors by winning 10 of 11 tournaments, including the Gwinnett County championship and the Area 8 duals. It's quite a turnaround for a program that went 0-2 at the area duals four years ago.
Archer (29-0) dominated the state tournament this weekend with wins over Lowndes (62-10), North Gwinnett (45-15) and Rockdale (66-3). Its closest match was in the finals against defending state champion Camden County.
"I knew it would be close. They are very tough," Beuglas said.
Archer defeated Camden 39-20 in early December, but that was when the Wildcats were still getting wrestlers in the right weight class.
"I knew it would be tough. We beat them before by 20, but that doesn't mean anything in the state championship," Alexander said.
After Camden took a 6-3 lead, Archer won the next four matches, which was started by Sam Bullard's technical fall at 120 pounds.
"Sam Bullard did a really good job getting it going for us," Beuglas said.
Grant Aycox (126 pounds) foltlowed with a 38-second pin, Chris Diaz (132) pulled off a 6-4 victory and Daniel Bullard (138) had 3:30 pin to push the Tigers to a 23-6 lead.
"They are strong at all 14 weight classes," Camden County coach Jess Wilder said. "They are a good program and we lost to a good team."
After Zach Wright posted a win at 152, Camden won the next three matches to cut the lead to 26-19 with two matches left. Alexander posted a 1:55 pin at 195 to deny Camden's comeback.
"I didn't know (I could win it) until I walked on the mat and coach told me," Alexander said.
Hunter McCleskey followed with a 3-0 win at 220 and M.J. Couzan began the dual with a 3-0 victory.
"All 14 of them, they each had one assignment and just about everyone did it or exceeded it," Beuglas said.
After losing to Camden in the semifinals, Collins Hill came back to place third. The Eagles defeated North Gwinnett 45-20 and then Brookwood 59-12. The Broncos finished fourth after taking sixth a year ago, while North finished in the top six.