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Archer takes big lead at state wrestling tourney

JOHNS CREEK — Archer put a firm grip on securing its second straight traditional state championship on Friday.

The Tigers advanced nine wrestlers to the Class AAAAAA state semifinals at Chattahoochee High School.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Archer head coach Tom Beuglas said. “We had one match in the quarterfinals we were winning, but lost. We wrestled pretty good overall.”

Archer leads the team standings with 100.5 points, followed by Camden County (63) and Collins Hill (43.5).

Camden had 12 in the quarterfinals, but only four advanced to the semis.

“They had a great first round and it was pretty tight,” Beuglas said. “But they had a bad second round.”

Archer is the defending dual and traditional state champions. The Tigers have won every tournament this season and appear headed to another title thanks to nine semifinalists.

“The big points will come today in the semis,” Beuglas said. “We can distance ourselves.”

Vinny Artigues (106), Chris Diaz (126), Grant Aycox (132), Sam Bullard (138), Thomas Bullard (152), Daniel Bullard (160), Quinn Miller (182), Elliott Lee (195) and MJ Couzan (285) all advanced. Archer has five wrestlers in the consolation bracket.

“We could win all of them,” Beuglas said of the semifinal matches. “I feel pretty good about them.”

All of the wrestlers that reached Saturday’s semifinals assured themselves of placing in the top six.

Gwinnett County has 27 wrestlers in the semifinals, including three in the 120, 126 and 132-pound weight classes.

The biggest surprise of the group is Peachtree Ridge’s William Broniec. The junior placed third at the county meet and was sixth at the state sectional. The junior class valedictorian with a 4.05 GPA had a career day on Friday. He knocked off West Forsyth’s Austin Saunders and Archer’s Garrett Miller, the No. 2 and No. 3 placers from the East Sectional.

“He’s slowly getting better,” Peachtree Ridge coach Sean Page said. “He’s picking kids off here and there.”

Duluth’s Rodney Jones reached the semifinals at 170 pounds and Alex Brown at 220, assuring Duluth of its first state placer since 1999.

Collins Hill put four in the semis. Three-time state champion Sean Russell had a pin and a technical fall in his two matches at 120 pounds. Two-time state champion Ryan Millhof had a pair of wins by technical fall at 126 pounds. Codi Russell (113) and Michael Roquet (145) also advanced to the semis.

Parkview’s Kamaal Shaukur (145) and Andrew Webb (138), North Gwinnett’s Hunter Franklin (132) and Todd Small (106), Mountain View’s Adam Flatt (120) and Octavian Jarda (182), Brookwood’s Thanh Nguyen (120) and Stephen Solamon (182), Grayson’s Javaughn Anderson (132), Meadowcreek’s Raymond Washington (126) and Mill Creek’s Bobby Klemm (285) also advanced to the semis.

Gwinnett has three wrestlers in the 120-pound semis. Brookwood's Nguyen and Mountain View’s Flatt will face off, while Collins Hill’s Sean Russell is on the other side of the bracket.

The 126-pound weight class has three in the semis with Archer’s Diaz facing Meadowcreek’s Washington. Collins Hill’s Millhof is on the other side of the bracket.

In the 132-pound semis, Grayson’s Anderson will face North’s Franklin, while Archer’s Aycox is on the opposite side of the bracket.

The tournament concludes on Saturday with the finals scheduled for 6 p.m. at Chattahoochee.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be at the Gwinnett Arena last weekend, but snow and ice canceled school and forced the postponement of the tournament.