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Archer sharp enough to claim third straight area traditional title

LILBURN — With practice time being limited by school being closed two days by weather earlier this week, the wrestlers in the Area 8-AAAAAA traditional wrestling championship tournament may not have been quite as sharp as their coaches would’ve liked.

However, Archer’s wrestlers were plenty sharp enough, with all 14 starters qualifying for their weight-class finals — with 11 taking home championships — to help the Tigers to their third straight team title Saturday at Parkview.

The Tigers’ total of 277.5 points easily outdistanced runner-up Grayson’s total of 154, and all 14 individuals will move on to next week’s Class AAAAAA State Sectional tournament at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.

“I thought we could get all 14 in the finals,” Archer coach Tom Beuglas said. “Then once we got here, I felt really good about 12 of them. … Nobody got hurt, and all 14 got through to next week. So, that was our main goal.

“It was a tough week not being in school. Kids got out of their routine. They had to make weight without having practiced. It was a little different. I know it was the same for everybody. Wrestling is a routine-oriented sport, and anytime you’re out of your natural routine, it’s tough. So all in all, I’m pretty pleased getting everybody through.”

All but three of the Tigers’ 14 finalists wound up winning area titles, with Thomas Bullard (152 pounds), Garrett Miller (170), Quinn Miller (182), Jacob Lill (220) and M.J. Couzan (285) all gaining pins in their respective championship matches.

Other Archer area weight-class champions included Vinny Artigues at 106, Gio Fernandez at 113, Chris Diaz at 126, Grant Aycox at 132, Daniel Bullard at 160 and Elliott Lee at 195.

The only weight classes which weren’t won by Archer wrestlers were 120, in which Brookwood’s Thanh Nguyen edged the Tigers’ Standridge 10-8, 138, which was won by Parkview’s Andrew Webb on a 7-3 decision over Archer’s Sam Bullard, and 145, won by Parkview’s Kamaal Shakur on a 21-5 technical fall over Archer’s Trey Rinehart.

The only drama in the team competition was for second place in which Grayson and Brookwood, with the Rams holding off the Broncos for the runner-up trophy by just 13 team points. Brookwood qualified eight wrestlers for next week's sectionals, while Grayson qualified seven.

And while Grayson coach Mike Stephen believes his team could’ve wrestled better, he is pleased enough with the result, and moreso with the fact that nine of his wrestlers will have something to shoot for next week.

“A certain segment of our team I don’t think wrestled up to its potential,” Stephen said. “We’ve got to wrestle a lot better than we did (Saturday). … I was hoping for more (state qualifiers), but the end result, we held onto second.”

Parkview’s two weight-class champions were part of a group of eight sectional qualifiers on the day, while Central Gwinnett and Berkmar each had six sectional qualifiers and Dacula had five. South also had two qualifiers.