The Buford High School wrestling program has concluded another phenomenal season, reigning as both Region 8 and GHSA AAAAAA state champions for duals and traditional tournaments.
The Wolves won convincing victories in the duals and traditional state championships, beating Creekview in the duals by a comfortable 46-17 and dominating the traditional tournament by finishing 100 points clear of second place Valdosta.
The Wolves also had 12 individual wrestlers place in the top five in the state, including Rylan Ibold (106), Maddox McArthur (120) and Drew Gorman (126) all of whom placed first for their weight classes.
According to head coach Tom Beuglas, there were a number of turning points throughout the year that really helped the team to reach such incredible heights this season.
The first was the return of Conor McCloskey (170) and Aaron Riner (182), both of whom missed the first six weeks of the wrestling season due to injury. McCloskey ended up finishing second at state while Riner finished third.
“They were a huge boost to our team once we got them going just before Christmas,” Beuglas said.
The next big help was the return of Trelain Maddox (220) and Eddrick Houston (285). They both played football as well, and so they delayed their start to the wrestling season as the Wolves won the state football championship in their classification.
“Neither of those two wrestled a match for us before Area Duals on Jan. 8,” Beuglas said. “They both scored a lot of points for us in the months of January and February.”
Beuglas also highlighted a number of selfless team moves by his wrestlers, which significantly aided in the program’s overall success this season.
Grayson Santee (160) and Talen Thompson (152) swapped weight classes midway through the season as Santee was struggling to make 152. Thompson agreed to go down, and both boys ended up placing at state with Thompson finishing third and Santee taking fifth.
Beuglas also mentioned that 2021 state champion Rylan Ibold wrestled the first half of the season at 113, leaving the team to forfeit the 106 weight class. After the holiday break, Ibold came down to 106 and ended up repeating as state champion.
“This allowed freshman Kieron McCormack into the lineup — and he finished up third in the state,” Beuglas explained. “This unselfish move by Rylan was a huge factor in our team success.”
Teamwork was a major aspect of the Wolves’ achievements this year and allowed the maximum number of Buford’s wrestlers to showcase their potential.
“As you can see, there were a lot of moving parts that played a big role in our success this season,” Beuglas added. “Sometimes moves work out, sometimes they do not, this year they all did.”
Having claimed their fourth state championship in six years in region AAAAAA, the Wolves will seek a new challenge next year as they move up to the AAAAAAA division.
“I think 6A probably has better overall individuals, is deeper and has better teams than 7A — except for Camden County. Nobody in Georgia has beaten them in eight years. They are the best team in Georgia,” Beuglas said. “Moving up and having to compete with them is going to be the biggest challenge for us since I came to Buford six years ago. It is going to take a monumental effort to knock them off of the top spot. We have a lot of work to do if we are going to compete with them.”
FEATURED PHOTO: Buford wrestler Jay Gorman, front, placed first in the state in the 126 weight class at the GHSA AAAAAA traditional tournament held on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, and Saturday, Feb. 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of the Buford High School Athletics Department.