BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City St. Francis and host Traverse City West started off the wrestling season with a pair of victories in a double dual Wednesday.
The Gladiators topped Boyne City 42-21 and Traverse City Central 48-18, while the Titans defeated Boyne 63-18 and Central 71-12.
The Titans received two wins each from Vincent Priante (103 pounds), Tyler Post (112), Jonah Jasmin (119), Mike Lambert (130), Caleb Kase (140), Sean Clark (145), Gabe Jasmin (152), Josh Weaton (171/189) and Ryan Drake (215). Brandon Barth (171) had one win.
Drake (215) and Gabe Jasmin (152) posted a pair of pins each.
"It was a good start," West coach Berard Priante said. "The kids wrestled really well. We had six freshmen in the lineup tonight, so for them to get a taste of victory is good. And we had four seniors in the lineup that led the way for those kids."
Priante, Post, Squires, Lambert, Post and Jonah Tannis are the half dozen freshmen to see action.
The Titans have 25 on the team this season, and hope to improve on their third-place showing in the Big North Conference a year ago. Perhaps by as much as two places, if Priante had his way.
"Hopefully we can knock Gaylord off their perch this year and win it," Priante said. "We've got a chance. They're practicing hard and wrestling hard. That's all I can ask for right now."
West travels Saturday to a 15-team tournament at Pinconning.
"That'll tell me where we're at as far as the young kids are concerned," Priante said. "Then next week we go to a 32-team tournament at Grand Rapids Northview, which is a really good tournament. (Grand Rapids) is where we go to district this year, so we'll see some of the competition down there."
Nick Kester (171/189) and Matt Mawby (135/140) had two wins by pin for the Gladiators, and heavyweight Jake Khoury finish off both his opponents in the first period.
Other double winners for the Glads included Victor Casler (109), Trica Martin (112), Eric Wales (119/125), Brian Wills (130). Ben Jamieson had one win by fall at 160 for St. Francis, which has only 11 wrestlers this season, down from 18 a year ago.
"We'll take a win when we get it," St. Francis coach Mike Simaz said. "We're really light on numbers this year, so that's really frustrating for our program. Last year, we had the best program in the north. We beat everybody around. We graduated five seniors — and now we're struggling to fill out a team. We've got quality, but we're voiding four weights, so that doesn't help."
Central's wins against West came from Alan LaFave with a 189-pound victory by fall in the second period and Sean Monnier at 285. The Trojans had victories against TCSF by Jennifer Long (152), LaFave and Austin Weir (215).
Central's top wrestler, Josiah Lopez-Wild, missed the matches with a shoulder injury.
The Trojans have a young team with only four upperclassmen joining seven freshmen and five sophomores.
"We have a lot of new kids, but a lot more experience," Central second-year coach Dave Haughn said. "Even though they're freshmen, most of them have wrestled through middle school."
The Trojans head to the Mason County Central tournament Saturday, where St. Francis will also be wrestling.
"Once we get our full team out ... I'm going to feel pretty good about where we are," Haughn said. "It's like a second-year program. It's not like an established program. Last year, I only had two kids who had ever wrestled before."
Boyne City's Connor Mills (152), Will Calo (215), Carter Wilmot (140) and Waylon Hennig (145) had wins against TCSF. Mills also had a win by pin against West, and Brady Calo (285) and R.J. LaDere (135) notched wins against West.