By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
GREEN COVE SPRINGS — It’s not often that Clay finds itself chasing down opponents in a two-day tournament setting.
But the Blue Devils are about as well-positioned as a chaser could be after the first day of wrestling at the 1A-Region 1 tournament in their home gym on Friday.
Clay stands in third place, behind Tallahassee-area teams Wakulla and Florida High, with 76.5 points and the same number of wrestlers left alive after the first day as those teams (10).
However, Clay still has nine wrestlers — more than any other team in the 31-team field — in the championship bracket.
“We knew going in that we’d probably be behind at the end of the day just due to numbers, but we had a good day,” Clay coach Jim Reape said. “We were three down going in and we had some byes in there today as well. We needed bonus points and we had to make those count.
“We had to have a day like this so we could get ready to have a great semi (round) today.”
Leading the charge with semifinal efforts for the Blue Devils were Lou Gagliardo (106, bye and major), Chris Merring (120, fall and major), Peyton Hughes (126, bye and pin), Dylan Fabiani (132, 2 first-period pins), Cody Taylor (138, fall and tech fall), Keath Sawdo (145, fall and major), Dylan Taylor (152, forfeit and fall), Kaleb Collins (195, 2 pins) and Kurt Jackson (2 pins at 220).
Ryan Rivers (285) makes 10 for the Blue Devils, surviving through to the semis.
Bishop Kenny moved nine through to today’s rounds, posting a fourth-place effort after Friday’s wrestling with 62 points. Nine Crusaders will compete today.
Crusader semifinalists are Jack Delaney (120, bye and fall), Andrew Slade (138, fall and decision) and Josiah McCallum (285, bye and decision).
Additionally, Garrett Tirado (126), Jack Donghit (132), Joey Cusick (145), Sid Madison (152), Nick Beenen (170) and Addison Glisson (195) are all alive in the wrestlebacks.
Suwannee finished just outside the top five after Friday’s action, starting Saturday in sixth place with 55 points and eight wrestlers left.
Bulldog semifinalists are Brandon Trask (106, 2 first-period pins), Tyler Ogles (113, 2 pins), Joey Borrell (145, 2 decisions) and Billy Jenkins (160, 2 falls in the first minute).
Chase Clark (120), Kenneth Foster (132), Terrell Williams (138) and Tanner Clark (152) are all alive in the consis for Suwannee.
Yulee (7th, 44 points) and Bolles (8th, 35) each have five wrestlers in today’s rounds. All five for the Hornets are in the semis — second-most among Northeast teams — while all five for the Bulldogs are in the wrestlebacks.
“We’re very happy with those five in the semis; we’d have liked to have had more in the wrestlebacks, but the five that are there, should be there. Those five have a chance and that’s good for us,” Yulee coach Brandon Crowder said.
Kyle Davis (106, 2 pins), Stevie Chopek (113, bye and decision), Dylan Youmans (fall and decision at 120), John Parker (160, bye and decision) and McKenzie Lewis (285, 2 pins) are the Hornets repping in the semis.
For Bolles, Josh Bono (106), Dalton Posick (113), KJ Fagan (145), Caleb Calhoun (160) and Mason Yost (220) are each in the wrestlebacks.
Westside posted a top-10 effort Friday, standing in 10th place with 29 points.
The Wolverines have three semifinalists in John Jones (170, decision and pin), Calvin Altman (182, bye and fall) and Tariq Hookfin (285, bye and decision), with Delmontae Davis (152) still alive in the wrestlebacks.
Raines is tied for 13th place, with 23 points, and three wrestlers still ongoing in semifinalist Jaquan English (126, bye and pin) along with Alonzo Davis (152) and Jamon Goodwine (285) in the consis.
Five teams — Episcopal (18th, 17.5 points), University Christian (T-19th, 17), Wolfson (T-19th, 17), Baker County (T-22nd, 16) and West Nassau (T-22nd, 16) — have two wrestlers still in competition today.
The Eagles’ Kyle Hopkins (113, forfeit and tech fall) is in the semis, with Christian Rickey (170) moving onward in the wrestlebacks for Episcopal.
For the Christians, Matthew Rodriquez (106, fall and decision) is a semifinalist, with Daniel Porter (113) in the consis. The wrestlebacks are where Wolfson’s Keethan Seay (220) and Ronald Brunson (285) are also found.
West Nassau’s William Tharpe (145, fall and major) is a semifinalist for the Warriors, with Daniel Boylan (195) in the wrestlebacks, as are Baker County’s Jordan Johnson (126) and James Barnett (170).
Five additional teams — Pedro Menendez (17th, 18 points), Bishop Snyder (T-19th, 17), Bradford (T-24th, 15), FSDB (29th, eight) and Fernandina Beach (30th, seven) — have one wrestler still going today.
Of those five, two are semifinalists in Pedro Menendez’s Max Worthington (160, fall and decision) and Bradford’s Eddie McCormick (220, bye & fall).
Bishop Snyder’s Brenden Bizier (138), FSDB’s Anthony Hoyt (182) and Fernandina Beach’s Joseph Helm (160) are all in the wrestlebacks.
Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. today, with finals set for 4 p.m.