PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Five Mount Anthony Union High School wrestlers won their opening match at the 49th annual New England wrestling championships on Friday night, propelling the Patriots to a slim lead after the first day of the tournament.
MAU leads five-time defending New England champion Timberlane (N.H.) 30-29.5 heading into Saturday's day-long grind.
"The tournament's going like this tournament goes, it's up and down," said Mount Anthony coach Scott Legacy. "Teams are losing kids they didn't expect to lose and the pressure is a totally different level."
Troy Gassaway at 113 pounds, Miguel Calixto (132), Damon Young (160), Austin Price (182) and Jesse Webb (285) all scored first-round victories and head to the quarterfinals, which start Saturday at 9 a.m.
Eleven of the 13 wrestlers from Mount Anthony remain in the tournament, including six in the wrestlebacks.
"We still have a lot of kids alive, we just have to keep winning matches one way or the other," Legacy said. "To have that many [left] gives us a solid chance."
Gassaway faced a familiar opponent in the first round in Ben Zogby from Franklin, Mass. The pair met earlier in the season with Gassaway losing at the Mount Anthony tournament. But Gassaway came out on top in the rematch, 4-3, after a late score.
"We had some really tough draws, that match was a nail-biter for Troy," Legacy said.
Calixto, a three-time New England place-finisher, won his first match against Timberlane's Dan Scalzo. He scored a takedown in the first period and then turned on the power, lifting and slamming Scalzo to the mat to score the fall and stay unbeaten this season.
Young took a 2-1 lead into the third period of his first-round match against Tom Barnett from Dirigo (Maine). Shortly after the whistle, Young took control and put Barnett on his back for the pin in 4:16, earning another six points for the Patriots.
"Picking up the extra bonus points were huge," Legacy said. "Miguel was solid throughout his match and Damon came up big today."
Price moved on to the quarterfinals after a 3-1 win over Brian Donovan from Manchester, Conn., at 182 pounds. The junior took the lead in the second period and held on to remain in the championship.
Webb, looking for his first New England title after placing the last two seasons, had the fastest fall of the tournament so far, beating Darick Orange from Connecticut with a pin in 14 seconds.
Tyler Mattison at 170 pounds lost a 4-2 decision to Frankie Weir from Hampshire, Mass., giving up two late reversals -- one in the second period and one with five seconds left to head to the wrestlebacks.
"He out-wrestled the kid for 5 minutes, 50 seconds and then gave up those points," Legacy said.
Other Mount Anthony competitors earned points for the Patriots in the first round of the wrestlebacks. Dylan LaFountain scored an 11-0 major decision at 120 over Bishop Hendricken's Robert Lanni.
"He lost to a kid he beat at the MAU tournament, then beat the Hendricken kid," Legacy said. "We're seeing kids we wrestled all year, we wrestled the right competition."
Mattison kept his placing hopes alive with a 2-0 decision over Champlain Valley's Grant Poston at 170 pounds. At 195, Brandon Marcoux-Schaefer lost his opening bout against Connecticut's Kyle Foster, a runner-up in last year's tournament. But he beat Mount Mansfield's John Sirois in the wrestleback to remain alive.
Bailey Willard at 138 pounds, Houston Shaler at 145 and Jack Luciano at 220 all earned consolation-round byes and begin their wrestleback matches Saturday. If they win their matches, the trio will get double points.
"That's a big round for us, they have to win those matches," Legacy said.
Tyler Raetz (106 pounds) and Kyle Fletcher (126) each went 0-2.