When the second day of the Schuylkill League Wrestling championships begin this afternoon, there will be several TIMES NEWS area wrestlers in medal contention.
Panther Valley's Lenny Ogozalek (113) and Rian Shubeck (220), both returning champions from a year ago, and Richard Nase (195), a runner-up last year, advanced to the semifinals with convincing quarterfinal wins.
"I think Rian has looked really good all year; he's a great athlete," Panther Valley coach Tim Robb said of Shubeck, who has moved from 285 pounds to 220 this season. "He wasn't a true heavyweight last year because he was only 235.
"I think he'll do really well this year. His movement is really good. His sparring partner (in practice) is Richard Nase, one of the quickest guys in the area. I think he can win this tournament again."
Robb also has high hopes for Ogozalek, who came into the tournament as the third seed.
"If he doesn't get into the finals I'll be shocked," the coach said. "He's some tough matches tomorrow, but he's excited for it."
Panther Valley will also have Darren Goida (120), Matt Buss (170) and Dylan Moyer (182) in the semifinals.
"We wrestled really well tonight," said Robb. "We're dealing with some injuries, but everyone we brought wrestled really well."
The Panthers will have Zach Turner (145), Hunter Davidyock (138) and Lukas Mika (285) in consolation matches with a chance to take third place in their respective weight classes.
While Robb was pleased with the performances of higher seeds such as Ogozalek, Nase and Shubeck, the coach was especially satisfied with the resolve his wrestlers showed in their consolation matches.
"With Lenny, Richard and Rian, I kind of expected them to be there," Robb remarked. "But I thought Lukas Mika wrestled really well in the wrestlebacks and I thought Hunter wrestled really well in his two matches.
"I'm very happy with how they wrestled tonight. I just hope they can respond tomorrow."
Tamaqua also had a strong opening night, with Tanner McHugh (113), Colin Mashack (126), a champion in 2012, Dylan Rynkiewicz (132), and Collin Moyer (182) all advancing to the semifinals.
The Raiders will also have Malik Roper (145), Ty Hinkle (138), Adam Toth (152) and Kyle Oliphant (182) in position for third place medals.
"I was very happy with the way we wrestled tonight," said Tamaqua coach Jon Mashack. "We brought eight guys and we have eight guys still in it. I just want the kids to come in tomorrow and wrestle well like they've been doing.
"Hopefully, we'll have all four in the finals and four more in the consolation finals. That's the goal. They've been working hard and I'm glad it's finally paying off with some wins."
Host team Jim Thorpe wrestled well, putting Ali Capobianco (132) and Robbie Geisinger (160) into the semifinals.
Geiseinger, who entered the tournament as the sixth seed, knocked off third seed Nick Kocan of Columbia Montour Vo-Tech in the quarterfinals by a 3-2 decision.
"I'm very excited because I wasn't sure if I was going to win," Geisinger said of his victory of Kocan, who was 8-2 entering the tournament. "I need to come out fired up tomorrow to have a chance to move on. I'm very excited for the opportunity."
In addition to Capobianco and Geisinger, Jim Thorpe will also have Kevan Gentile (106), James O'Toole (126), Antonio Madera (145), Robert Heller (170) and Justice Batts (220) in the consolation bracket.
The opportunity to perform on a big stage is something Jim Thorpe coach Shawn Albert is thrilled with.
"I'm really excited to see how the guys come out and perform tomorrow," Albert said. "We all want to be champions, but sometimes the true character of a good wrestler is fighting back and getting that third place."
Panther Valley finished the day in third place in the team standings, trailing Blue Mountain and Pine Grove, which have 77 and 72.5 points, respectively.
Tamaqua is ninth with 53 points, while Jim Thorpe is 10th with 47.5.