HERSHEY - There's a simple key to success on Day One of the PIAA State Wrestling Championships.
Win (which is never really simple at this level) and then relax.
If you win your preliminary match here, you don't have to wrestle again until Friday's quarterfinals. Lose your opener, though, and you fall into the consolations, which makes the road to earning a medal (the top eight in each weight class do so) much more difficult.
On Thursday, nine area Class 3A wrestlers won their prelims and remained in contention for a state title.
"The first day of states is usually the toughest," said Souderton senior Tyler Williams (138 pounds), a three-time state qualifier and state medalist last season, who won his opener by technical fall.
"All season long you're wrestling in 'podunk' tournaments and then all of sudden you're here. Last week, we were wrestling (Southeast) regionals in my home gym and now we're on maybe the biggest stage in the country for high school wrestling because Pennsylvania is so tough and we're doing it in the Giant Center. It can be a little overwhelming if you're not used to it."
"I was nervous," said Tamburrino, who recorded an 11-6 win in his prelim. "You're on the Giant Center floor and a lot of people are watching you. It kind of went away in the second and third period and I think I'll be fine tomorrow."
Robinson (13-1), Lucerne (9-1) and Hanson-Ashworth all recorded major decisions in their openers while Waterman, Ricchini, Erb and Klewin notched decisions.
"Anybody can beat anybody here," said Erb, a senior, who topped impressive Clearfield freshman Mark McGonigal 7-1. "The guy I wrestled is a freshman and he was really strong and he's good.
"It doesn't matter what you did before this (Erb was second at regionals). It's all about the right now. Everybody wants to be on the top step of the podium on Saturday night, but only one guy is going to be able to do it."
Waterman, who lost to Council Rock North's Kyle Hauserman in both the District One-East and Southeast Regional finals, blanked Bethlehem Catholic freshman Dante Frinzi 4-0 to reach the quarterfinals.
"Anything can happen here," Waterman said. "Kyle (Hauserman) beat me early in the season and then in both tournaments, but he lost his first match today. Weird things happen. Getting the first win really can help you.
"You can relax and get ready for tomorrow and try and be at your best."
In Class 2A, defending PIAA state champ Nate Haubert (145) from Palisades, who missed most of the regular season due to a knee injury and placed third at regionals, began defense of his title with a solid 8-1 win over Jackson Spires, of General McLane.
"I felt good," Haubert said. "I was able to get control of the match early on and it was a good way to start the state tournament. My knee feels fine and I'm exactly where I need to be."
Up next for Haubert (who placed fourth here as a sophomore before winning in 2018) in Friday's quarterfinals will be St. Joseph's Catholic's Caleb Dowling, the top-ranked wrestler in Class 2A according to www.papowerwrestling.com.
"I've never wrestled him before," Haubert said. "But that doesn't matter. I treat every match the same way and just go out and give everything I have."
Haubert's teammate, senior Adam Marsh (182), also advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a 3-1 overtime victory over Cameron Andrews, of North Penn-Liberty.
"Marsh had a good one, winning in overtime," Haubert said. "We can both get out of here now, go get something to eat and be ready for tomorrow."
Impressive Faith Christian freshman Eric Alderfer (106) opened his first state tournament in style by recording a 1-0 win over Danville's Andrew Johnson in the pigtail round. From there, Alderfer dropped an 8-1 verdict to South Park's undefeated Joey Fischer to drop into the consolation bracket.
Two of Alderfer's teammates, both juniors, Max Schultz (160) and Damon Waltenbaugh (170), lost their pigtail matches to drop into the consolation round. Both also lost in the first round of consolations and were eliminated from the tournament.
Council Rock South, with a whopping nine, had the most qualifiers reach Hershey regardless of classification.
"It's great having so many teammates here," Waterman said. "Some schools might only have one or two guys, but we have a bunch and that makes it a lot of fun."