RENO - With a few exceptions, it was business as usual for the Carson High wrestling team at the opening day of the Division I tournament at Reno High.
The Senators have seven wrestlers - Sammy Mercado (103), Kyle Sharp (120), Cole McCarthy (132), Nick Lani (138), Colby Brown (160), Jordan Luhrs (170) and Brady Rivera (182) - in the semifinals which start at 10 a.m. today.
Caden Lehman (106), Dominic Kinder (126), Alex Cunningham (145) and Brady O'Keefe (145) all lost once Friday and are in consolation action.
The only wrestlers eliminated Friday were Skylar Schilling (152), Garrett McDermott (132) and Tristain Wadsworth (126).
"(Today) is the big day," Carson coach Tim McCarthy said. "The stakes are high and we should be ready. Everybody is fighting for a top-3 finish and a spot in state."
Some wrestlers had it easy and some had it tough on Friday.
The easiest trip to the semis was by Colby Brown, who never stepped foot on the mat. The 160-pound bracket wasn't big, and Brown had a first-round bye.
Sharp, Rivera and Luhrs had to wrestle just one match each, and all three posted impressive wins via pins.
Sharp pinned Ian Castonguay of North Valleys 63 seconds into the match. He was a man on a mission after a disappointing loss to Spanish Springs last week. It was if he felt he had to prove himself.
"I wanted to come back strong," Sharp said. "We needed team points, so I went out looking to be aggressive and trying to get a pin."
Luhrs, after a first-round bye, needed just 25 seconds to register a pin against Reed's Oscar Leon. With the win, Luhrs earned the right to face Gaspar Pinon of North Valleys in the semis.
Rivera also received a first-round bye and then went out and pinned Connor Stipe of McQueen 53 seconds into the third round of their match. He'll face Tyler Beaulac of Spanish Springs, who beat him last week at Carson in a dual meet.
Lani went 2-0, and he only had to wrestle 1 minute 59 seconds which means he should be fresh for today. He pinned Hug's Juttland Alsaybar in 77 seconds, and then took care of Damonte's Weston Jamison in 42 seconds.
Mercado, known for his low-scoring matches, also had two pins. He started with a 44-second demolition of McQueen's Chris Stockton and then pinned Reed's Austin Martinez with 15 seconds left in their second-round match.
Mercado trailed 4-3 and appeared headed for the consolation round until he put Martinez down for the count.
"I know he likes to throw people," Mercado said. "I used hip pressure to bring him to his hip. He tried to throw me when we wrestled in Fernley recently."
The toughest road to the championship semis belonged to Cole McCarthy, who found himself in tight situations in both of his wins even though he won both via pin.
The Carson senior opened with Hug's Al-Don Kaluau, and quickly built a 7-0 lead on two takedowns and a 3-point near fall. Kaluau fought back with a reversal and 3-point near fall of his own to make it 7-5. He had McCarthy seconds from being a first-round upset victim.
McCarthy finished the first period up 9-5, and then scored a pin 10 seconds into the second round.
"It was one of those unconventional things," coach McCarthy said. "When a wrestler is on the bottom, you aren't supposed to reach back, but he did and Cole had relaxed. That would have been the biggest upset of the tournament."
"I was hanging my head and he popped me," Cole McCarthy said. "It panicked me."
McCarthy never trailed in his second match, but was on his back briefly and recovered nicely to get a pin late in the second period.
McCarthy will face Rito Hernandez of Spanish Springs in the semis.
"I beat him 2-1 earlier, but it was a tough match," McCarthy said. "I know I can't make the mistakes I made today f I expect to beat him."
O'Keefe suffered a 7-4 upset loss at the hands of Reno's Jeremy Smith in the first round, but he bounced back with pins against Parker Miller of Wooster and Jon Weiderhold of McQueen. He has to win twice today to get to state.
"He wasn't able to get off the bottom," coach McCarthy said. "I think that guy rode him for three or four minutes of the match. It will be tough to come back. He'll have to face Zach Perez from Spanish Springs to make it (to state)."
Cunningham, Carson's other 145-pounder, stayed alive with pins against North Valleys' Alex Sperske and McQueen's Bryan Ruiz. Both came in the second round.
After a first-round loss, Kinder knocked off John Martell of Wooster, 7-0.