Through the first day of the 11th annual Mount Mat Madness wrestling tournament at Mount Saint Joseph, John Carroll has made it look easy.
The No. 2 Patriots have six wrestlers in the semifinals and three still battling in the consolation round of one of the state's toughest tournaments. They lead three Virginia schools — Fauquier, Brentsville District and Mountain View — with 124.5 points after the first day.
"I'm surprised we pulled ahead as far as we did," John Carroll coach Keith Watson said. "Gotta love bonus points. We got a lot of falls in the quarters. And of course, tournaments are won in the wrestle-backs, so we had a lot of guys wrestle back and pin people."
The No. 3 Gaels, the tournament host, are in fourth place with 89.5 points, while No. 4 Loyola Blakefield (12th, 58), No. 11 Glenelg (13th, 55), Boys' Latin (14th, 51.5) and St. Vincent Pallotti (15th, 50.5) are in the top 15 heading into the semifinal round, which is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The Patriots are looking to win the Mount Mat Madness tournament for the first time after finishing tied for third place at last year's event. They look primed to accomplish the feat with CJ Skokowski (120 pounds), Steven Jernigan (145), Austin Ross (160), Chris Almony (170), returning tournament champion Hunter Ritter (195) and Christian Scott (285) in the semifinals, the most of any school.
However, Watson said he knows that tournaments are never won on the first day.
"Being up by [16 points], I guess I have to think we got to be able to maintain that lead, but it ain't over until it's over," he said. "I never count my chickens before the eggs are even laying there, so we need to do what we need to do."
Watson said in order for his team to maintain its lead, the three No. 1 seeds (Almony, Ritter and Scott) need to make it to the finals while the rest must battle in the consolation round and aim to place.
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"My wrestle-back guys need to come back and place, and the guys that may not win in the semis need to pull on their big-boy pants and wrestle to place high," Watson said.