LYNN HAVEN — Fifteen schools breezed through the first day of the Panhandle Wrestling Championship on Friday.
The expedience was aided by the immediate lack of a complete field in each of the 14 weight classes in the event hosted at Mosley’s Jim Redfern Gymnasium. Some weight classes had less than half of a full field due to lower participation numbers, which kept the matches going at a steady clip.
The result was a smooth opening day for the area’s last major tournament before district eliminations open in two weeks. Each weight class has advanced to championship semifinals. There are only four matches in each class before place bouts will be held in the afternoon today.
Wakulla and Gulf Breeze have taken the early lead in the team standings, the War Eagles leading 75-70. Pace (55) is third followed by Live Oak Suwannee (49) and Fort Walton Beach (45.5) in the top five.
Rutherford (45) is the highest Bay County team at sixth. Arnold (39) is seventh, Bay (24.5) 12th and Bozeman and Mosley are tied for 14th with 20 points. Area teams Marianna and Wewahitchka are tied for ninth with 28 points.
Arnold and Rutherford each have four wrestlers alive in championship semifinals to lead all area teams. Those who will compete for championship spots for the Rams are Daniel Nguyen (145), Terrance Reed (152), Michael Lee (170) and Elijah Saffore (220). Challenging for titles for the Marlins are Colby Baker (138), Taylor Ryan (145), Reggie Gordon (220) and Kole Krimm (heavyweight).
Arjay Bantique (113) and John Sherman (152) have semifinal matches today for Bay. Jonah Savage (106) and Kris Kenney 170) have forged on without a loss for Bozeman. Kenney and Lee are matched in one of the 170-pound semifinals.
Forrest Lang (152) advanced to the semifinals for Mosley and he will face Sherman for a championship berth. Justin Berg (182) also advanced to the semifinals for the Dolphins.
The tournament continues today starting at 10 a.m. There will be a junior varsity tournament in conjunction with the varsity event.
Varsity matches will take place on two of the five mats for the duration of the JV tournament. Wrestlers who were eliminated after two matches on Friday in the double-elimination tournament are eligible to compete for respective JVs.