Panther Valley had a strong showing on the opening night of the Schuylkill League Wrestling Tournament in Pottsville, advancing four wrestlers to the semi-final round, along with seven others going through to the consolation quarterfinals.
Lenny Ogozalek, Dylan Moyer, Richard Nase and Rian Shubeck advanced to this afternoon's semifinals with a chance to take home titles in their respective weight divisions.
The Panthers had Darren Goida, Mike Lazar, Hunter Davidyock, Elijah Hibbler, Jared Eickoff, Matt Buss and Rich Smith advance in the consolation bracket.
Panther Valley coach Tim Robb was pleased with how the opening night went for his team and has high expectations for his wrestlers that advanced to the semis.
"Tonight went pretty much as planned," Robb said. "We knew some of our kids weren't seeded great and they were going to run into guys in the quarters they were going to have a hard time beating."
Dylan Moyer had a bit of an upset to move on to the semis in defeating Jack Hower of Schuylkill Haven, who is 16-5 on the season.
Robb believes he has 11 wrestlers left that have a chance to medal tonight.
"I'd like everybody that's left to place," remarked Robb. "I think the potential's there. Our goal was 10 medals and right now we have 11 kids left.
"We'd love to get three champs. I have four kids in the semis so I'd like to get three finalists and three winners."
Robb believes that one of the reasons the team is primed to capture multiple medals is the fact that the tournament is wide-open, giving his kids a chance to perform well.
"I think the balance of the tournament is nice," said Robb. "I don't think anyone is going to overpower another team.
"Our goal is to get them on the stand and that would be an accomplishment."
Jim Thorpe also performed well on the first night of the tournament, with Brian Ohl and Ali Capobianco advancing to the semifinals and Kevan Gentile, Kyle Morales and Ryan Ruberto advancing to the consolation quarterfinals.
Jim Thorpe coach Shawn Albert has a positive outlook heading into the second day with the majority of his team returning with a chance to medal.
"We came here with seven guys and we're coming back with five, so that's a good sign," Albert said. "Our guys are stepping up and that's all that matters to me.
"It's about getting better and wrestling three hard periods. This is a good opportunity for us."
Albert is looking for his team to come into the second day with intensity and show they are ready to compete against the top wrestlers in the Schuylkill League.
"I want to see these guys fight back tomorrow," Albert said. "We started the season strong as a team and it's been a little bit of a roller coaster since, but we're working our way back up.
"I expect these guys to fight back because it's the type of character they have."
There's no doubt Tamaqua's wrestlers have strong character, but the Blue Raiders were done in before the tournament even started by something out their control.
Tamaqua was forced to adjust heading into the tournament with five guys missing practice during the week due to the flu. The bug definitely had an impact on how the team performed in the tournament.
"We struggled today and a lot of our guys had the flu all week," coach John Mashack said. "A couple of them did make it back for the tournament, but we wrestled like we still had the flu."
Tamaqua will have Dylan Rynkiewicz and Luke Matsago advancing to the semifinals while Adam Toth will be moving on in the consolation bracket. Nolan Zeigler advanced in the consolation bracket for the Blue Raiders but was forced to pull out due to illness.
Mashack is hoping to end the week on a positive note after battling adversity early on.
"We're gonna get them ready for their matches tomorrow and hope we can get them in the finals," said Mashack. "We really want to wrestle well for those bouts tomorrow."