RENO - Carson High School's "Four Horsemen" - seniors Travis Lamborn (160 pounds), Kyle Banko (130), Robbie Bozin (125) and Owen Craugh (112) - once again ran roughshod over their competition on Friday, but by the end of the first day of the Northern 4A regional wrestling championships, they were joined by three other thoroughbreds who will compete in today's championship semifinal round at Hug High School.
Senior Derek Giurlani shocked No. 1 seed Cody Spates of Douglas in the first round before going on to pin Alex Tong of McQueen to join Kyle Banko in the 130-pound semifinals.
Junior Todd Banko (Kyle's brother) scored two pins at 119 pounds and junior Martin Azzam followed up his first-round bye with a pin in the second round at 145 pounds to help lead Carson to 54 points and third place in team scoring.
Douglas leads the pack with 61 points, followed by Damonte Ranch (54.50). Galena is in fourth with 51.50 points, followed by McQueen (51), Fallon (50.50), Spanish Springs (50) and Reno, which is in eighth place with 38 points.
Neither the Four Horsemen's nor Todd Banko's and Martin Azzam's success came as a big surprise, but the same can't be said for that of Giurlani, who took a disqualification/victory by forfeit over Spates, who committed four technical violations.
Spates was leading 10-8, but was called for locking hands, stalling, fleeing the mat and illegally scissoring Giurlani's head before being DQ'd.
"Derek was in (Spates') face the whole match," said first-year Carson coach Tyson Thivierge. "He trailed the whole match, but then the kid (Spates) started making mistakes. That was a head's-up job on 'Gurgles' part. That's one match that snuck away from Douglas)."
"Gurgles" would be Giurlani (pronounced girl-ah-knee), whom Thivierge sometimes calls "Girly."
"'Giurlani' is too hard to yell out," Thivierge said. "I'll stick with 'Gurgles.' In his next match (against Tong), he went after it like an animal. Gurgles has the mindset that he knows this is it. He has heart like nobody else. He showed that today and will hopefully show that tomorrow."
Giurlani will face Bishop Manogue's Gary Albright in the semifinal round.
The 19-year-old Giurlani, who is wrestling in his first Northern 4A regional championship tournament finished a varsity-high fourth in the recent Marin Tournament and is riding a high.
"I felt I wrestled pretty hard," Giurlani said. "I felt I could've done better. After (he beat Spates), I felt really great - full of confidence. I feel like I can go all the way now. I gotta meet Banko in the finals."
Giurlani is a non-scoring competitor and was entered in hopes of knocking off some of Banko's possible competitors. With that accomplished, the pair stands a chance of making it an all-Carson 130-pound final.
"With him being my teammate, I'm hoping I can give him a hell of a match and get him ready for the state tournament," said Giurlani, who was also a wide receiver for the Carson football team last season. "It's awesome. I feel great."
So does Azzam, who followed his bye with a 1-minute, 45-second pin over Spanish Springs' Zack Brown. Azzam will face Galena's Eric Wilcoxson in the semis today.
"It's zone. You have to let it all out," Azzam said. "You have to do or die. It could be your final match of the season. I don't want to end it."
Azzam finished fourth in zone as a sophomore and said he benefited from Thivierge's coaching style.
"I'm in a lot better shape," Azzam said. "Thivierge's work ethic made me last longer. I don't gas as easily. It feels good. I'm gonna try hard and I hope to make it to state. I'm just going to go hard in each match."
Which is music to the ears of Thivierge, who felt that some of his wrestlers were a little unprepared.
"Azzam had one match and he was prepared to wrestle," Thivierge said. "Some kids went out there flat and it showed and they got beat. Martin prepared himself and got after it. He's a physical kid. He's in great condition."
One Senator who is feeling in better condition than he was is Todd Banko, who recently overcame an elbow injury and began this tournament with a pin (2:32) of Dyllan Ogden, of Spanish Springs, and followed it up with another fall (1:20) over Elko's James Allen.
"I'm feeling pretty excited," said Banko, who finished second in zone and third in state as a sophomore last year. He will next face Galena's Doug Del Porto, to whom he lost in the finals at zone. "I haven't seen Del Porto since last year. I'm looking to come out and see if my style works better."
Although he had more wins last year, Banko also had more losses and at 32-2 this year, is having his finest season yet.
"(Thivierge) just helped me make it better," Banko said. "(The elbow) is feeling great. It's not going to be an issue. I'm ready to go and am looking forward to it."
"Todd wrestled great today," Thivierge said. "In his first match he went right after it. In the second one, the kid held on for a little bit. (Banko) got after it. He worked the kid hard. He and every one of (the championship rounders) has tunnel vision. Every time the kid (Banko) gets on the mat, he believes he can win. It should carry through tomorrow and keep his momentum going."
Carson will be also be helped in the point-scoring aspect of the tournament because it has six other wrestlers in the consolation rounds: Nick Schlager (103 pounds), Adam Carmazzi (135), Aaron Jolcover (140), Bret Allen (152), Matt Heath (171) and Garrett Truesdell (189).
Truesdell was up 7-0 on Douglas' Sean Molina, when he went for a switch and instead ended up on his back for the fall. Truesdell, who opened with a bye, redeemed himself with a pin over Damonte Ranch's Nolan Wilcock in the consolation round.
Schlager, who also had a bye, lost to Galena's Jake Gunzel, 5-3, in double overtime; Jolcover followed his bye by ending up on the wrong end of a fall (4:40) to Brady Finchon, of Spanish Springs; and Carmazzi followed his bye with a 10-8 loss to Galena's Kevin Gerow. Matt Heath opened up with a pin (2:30) over Kevin Schaffer, of Spanish Springs, before losing by fall (2:47) to Douglas' buffed-out, hyperkinetic Tony Ferris.
"Matt Heath just wrestled a solid kid," Thivierge said. "Truesdell was up 7-0. That was just a shock. He's better than that. He's already beaten Molina. With Schlager losing that match, it was heartbreaking. He's capable of beating that kid. Every match we lost, we weren't ready. We'll hopefully learn from that and get after that when we come back tomorrow."
The second-round consolations begin at 10 a.m. today at Hug High School, followed by the semifinal championship round at noon. The championship final round begins at 6 p.m.