SUNRISE WRESTLING: Four-time champs take lead after first day

Green Valley wrestling coach Jon Ferry was hoping his team could shoot the moon Friday and have a semifinalist in all 14 weight classes of the Division I Sunrise Region tournament.

The Gators didn’t pull it off, but they still did enough to lead after the first day.

Host Green Valley advanced 12 scoring wrestlers — and 13 in all — into the semifinals, and the four-time defending region champions scored 80 points to get a head start on second-place Foothill (69½ points).

“Our goal was to have two more guys in that position. We studied the bracket and we anticipated getting some wins where we didn’t,” Ferry said. “There are a handful of quality teams in here that will give us their best, and it’s our job to stay hungry and match that intensity and wrestle the way we know how to wrestle.”

The tournament continues Saturday with the semifinals starting at noon at Green Valley. The championship round is scheduled to begin at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The top three finishers in each weight class advance to the Division I state tournament Feb. 13 and 14 at the Winnemucca Event Center.

Coronado is third with 43 points, and Liberty also is in contention with 42 points.

Green Valley didn’t have a semifinalist at 113 or 220 pounds, but put Adrian Ojeda and Joseph Mascoli into the semis at 145 pounds. Mascoli, the Gators’ nonscoring wrestler, upset top-seeded Jakob Hartung of Liberty 10-0 in the opening round.

Giullian Nakamatsu (152), Jiar Meagher (160), Jared Temple (182) and Cade Van Orden (195) each won two matches by fall for Green Valley. Defending region champions Jesse Gabriel (120) and Wallace Zernich (126) had first-period pins in their only matches, as did two-time state champion Sean Cannon (132).

“They did their job. We had a game plan and they stuck to it and executed the way we drew it up,” Ferry said. “I’m very pleased and proud with the way they wrestled.”

Zernich is part of the marquee semifinal as he will take on Liberty’s Jaylon Bates, the 2014 region champion at 120 pounds. Bates won his first match by fall and beat Rancho’s Daniel Diaz by technical fall in the quarterfinals.

Foothill put 10 wrestlers into the semifinals and was especially strong at the upper weights. Defending region champion Josh Ozuna won his only match at 220 pounds in 27 seconds, and Bobby Merritt needed 29 seconds to win by fall at 170 pounds.

Wyatt English (106), Nicholas Bottoms (126), Jacob Chavez (132) and R.J. Banos (285) each won both of their matches by fall for the Falcons, who finished two points behind Green Valley at the region tournament last season.

“I think there’s three teams it’s going to be split between,” Falcons coach Ryan English said. “We’re hoping that we nudge them out. We’ve got some horses on the back side, and hopefully they’ll do their job.”

Liberty had seven scoring competitors — and eight in all — move into the semifinals, including defending region champions Michael Martinez (132) and Storm Roper (152). Roper, who won the Division I state title at 145 pounds last season, won his opening match by technical fall before pinning Foothill’s Isaac Oliva in 3:51.

James Watkins won two matches by fall at 120 pounds for the Patriots and is joined in the semifinals by teammate Kyle Dudder, who won his only match by fall in 17 seconds. Jimmy Cedillo won both of his matches at 182 pounds, including an opening-round pin.

Liberty’s Jimmy Morimoto, the top seed at 138 pounds, won his only match by decision and takes on Randle Crowley of Coronado in another high-profile semifinal. Crowley, the runner-up at the region and state tournament last year, won his only match by fall in 1:38 and is one of six semifinalists for the Cougars.

Coronado’s Daniel Hampton pinned both of his opponents at 152 pounds in less than a minute, and teammate Myles Wamsley (160) also won both of his matches by fall.