The first day of the state wrestling tournament was not kind to schools from Broward County.
Not at all.
St. Thomas Aquinas brought nine wrestlers to the Silver Spurs Arena just south of Orlando and placed three into the semifinal round to lead all Broward schools.
Of the 10 wrestlers that Cardinal Gibbons brought to the Class 3A competition, only two are still angling for a state championship.
When the semifinals roll around Saturday morning, eight wrestlers representing four schools will be involved.
“You have to be at your very best when you come to the state tournament because if you’re not, you’re not winning here,“ said Cypress Bay coach Allen Held, whose team won the BCAA tournament but had all three of its wrestlers knocked out of the championship round Friday.
“We had a great season but came up here and were exposed. We just have to keep working. I expected to get two in the semifinals. When you don’t come to wrestle, and your opponents do, you see what happens.”
Gibbons senior Dominic Gibson, a state runner-up last year, was knocked out in the second round by Devin Kohn of Bishop Moore 4-0.
The Chiefs — who finished second at state last year after winning the 1A title in 2014 — still have senior Julian Georgesou (46-1) and junior Christophe Williams (44-2) going for championships.
Orlando’s Lake Highland Prep has pretty much run away with the team title.
“As young as we are, I knew there would be a time when the talent and inexperience coincided with each other,” said Gibbons’ coach Frank Pettineo, whose team could still land eight placers.
“Usually when that happens is here at state. We started seven freshmen and had sophomores who hadn’t wrestled. Almost everyone comes back. This is great experience for them.”
St. Thomas Aquinas has three of its best guys still going as Grant Aranoff (53-2), Bryce Marcus (54-4) and Josiah Gittman (52-2) remain in the running.
The Raiders don’t figure to be in contention for the team title as they sit in sixth place and trail powerhouse South Dade by 16.5 points.
“I thought we had an outside shot to put five guys in the semifinals and we end up with three we knew we would get,” Aquinas coach Rob Wimberley said.
American Heritage has a pair of wrestlers left in 1A as Dominick Venturi (39-3) and Bradley Clement (26-1) won both of their matches on Friday.
Venturi will square off against nationally-ranked Jake Brindley of Lake Highland in the semifinal.
“He has the right mindset,” coach Matthew Burnett said. “He’s going to leave everything he has out on the mat.”
Coral Springs Charter is represented in the semifinals by senior Kevin Soltis (26-4) who faces Lake Highland’s Kevin Ford (52-6).
The semifinals will kick off in Kissimmee Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with the finals scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We still have a chance to have three kids win a state championship,” Wimberley said. “If that happens, we will be very happy.”
3A Team Standings — 1. South Dade 55; 2. Southridge 52.5; 3. Orange Park Fleming Island 50; 4. Kissimmee Osceola 47.5; 5. Southwest 39.5; 6. St. Thomas Aquinas 38.5; 31. Cypress Bay 9; 34. Coral Springs 7; 37. Plantation 6; 40. Cooper City 5; 49. Everglades 3; 53. Hollywood Hills 2. 3A Semifinals — 138-pounds: Grant Aranoff (Aquinas) v. Christian Rivera (Freedom); Anthony Kinsey (Southridge) v. Justin Camacho (Gateway); 145: Bryce Marcus (Aquinas) v. Kurtis Aimable (Freedom); Ozzy Lugo (South Dade) v. Evya Insalaco (Palm Coast); 182: Josiah Gittman (Aquinas) v. Steven Mercadante (Sarasota); Ryan Smenda (Fleming Island) v. Johnny Raich (Palm Beach Gardens).
1A Team Standings — 1. Orlando Lake Highland Prep 124; 2. Clay 90.5; 3. Panama City Arnold 55.5; 4. Cardinal Gibbons 45.5; 5. Tallahassee Florida High 38; 15. American Heritage 17; 19. Coral Springs Charter 13; 19. Somerset 13; 41. Coconut Creek 6; 50. Hallandale 3. 1A Semifinals — 145-pounds: Dominick Venturi (Heritage) v. Jake Brindley (Highland); Keath Sawdo (Clay) v. Anthony Artalona (Tampa Prep); 170: Julian Georgesou (Gibbons) v. Elijah Cleary (Highland); Will Haigler (FHS) v. Jake Walker (Sarasota Military); 182: Brian Girard (Arnold) v. Conner Allshouse (Indian Rocks); Kevin Soltis (Springs Charter) v. Kevin Ford (Highland); 195: Kaleb Collins (Clay) v. Ryan Thomas (Heritage-Delray); Christophe Williams (Gibbons) v. Cam Brown (FHS); 220: Ben Goldin (Highlands) v. Bradley Clement (Heritage); Scott Dollison (Episcopal) v. Judas McKenzie (Dunbar).