COLUMBIA, Mo. - After a morning session that was so-so, the Blair Oaks wrestling team was more go-go in the afternoon.
The Falcons went just 4-4 in their first-round matches at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 Wrestling Championships. But all four of the Falcons who lost came back to win in the first round of wrestlebacks, keeping the whole squad alive for Day 2.
"We got everybody through," said a relieved Tim Karsten, the Blair Oaks coach. "We had to come back tough in wrestlebacks."
A good example of that came from Karsten's son, John. The 220-pounder lost by fall in his opener to Gallatin's Jimmy Dale.
Karsten came close to getting a pin in the first period, then fought off getting pinned in the second before losing ball fall in the third.
"It was a tough one," Tim Karsten said. "John lost to him last year as well and we thought we had his number. We should have gone for more takedowns, but (Dale) wrestled well."
But John Karsten was able to regroup and captured a 6-3 win over Whitfield's Robert Hawkins.
Others who came back to win in wrestlebacks were Payton Lackman (126), Alex Gaydos (132) and Zach Barlow (152).
"They did a great job coming back on the back side for us," Tim Karsten said.
Lackman lost by fall to Whitfield's Kurtis Hahn in the first round, but in wrestlebacks, made quick work of Ethan Ambrose of O'Hara, pinning him in 1:56.
Gaydos, after dropping a tough 3-0 decision to John Anderson of Mid-Buchanan to start the day, came back to pin Gabe Stringer of Principia.
Barlow, after falling 3-2 to Lathrop's Trent Scobee, got a forfeit win in wrestlebacks.
The day couldn't have gotten off to a better start for the Falcons, as Frankie Falotico took to the mat at 120 pounds and pinned South Harrison's Kaleb Wooden.
The match was just 1-0 in favor of Falotico after two periods, before he put Wooden in trouble early in the third. After working on him for almost the entire period, Falotico got the pin with :09 left.
"You're always afraid with freshmen they'll be a little tentative, but Frankie went out and got the pin for us," Karsten said. "That was big."
The Falcons next win came from Logan Mudd at 138 pounds, as he improved to 52-1 by pinning Rock Port's Trevor Holmes in just 1:10.
Wrestling simultaneously to Mudd on an adjacent mat, Blair Oaks' 145-pounder Brad Thomas won 6-0.
"That was a great match," Karsten said. "That's what we were hoping for."
At 182 pounds, Eli Roberts moved his record to 45-0 by pinning Quintez Binder of Cleveland NJROTC in a mere 50 seconds.
"He's wrestling tough right now, he's on track," Karsten said. "I'm very pleased with him."
Those results were good enough to put Blair Oaks in third place in the team race with 24 points. Brookfield is in first with 30.5, while Whitfield is second with 28.
"It's going to be a tough year, everybody's got tough kids up here," Karsten said. "There are no slouches, so they're going to have to earn it."
Action resumes at 9:30 a.m. today with the quarterfinals and second-round wrestlebacks. The semifinals and third-round wrestlebacks are set for 6 p.m.
Karsten said he was glad to get out of Mizzou Arena early Thursday to prepare for a long day today.
"It's good we're done at 2 o'clock," he said. "We can relax, recuperate. The guys on the back side can come back in the morning and then can watch the quarterfinals, see who they're going to wrestle and get prepared for that. Then we'll go from there."