The Gators opened the preseason on high notes as seven team members placed within the top four in their weight class at the annual Under-21 JC/College Open at The Swamp.
Although Clayton Buchanan participated as a redshirting member, the freshman earned second place in the 125-pound weight class bracket, losing to redshirting freshman Troy Lakin from Menlo College by one point.
“It felt really good,” Buchanan said. “I’m a redshirt freshman, and I didn’t expect to make it that far in my very first tournament.”
Head coach Lars Jensen was pleased with the team’s performance.
“The kids have been workin’ real hard, and that’s what it’s all about — that we wrestle really hard,” he said. “I thought we did really well. Next week’s gonna be another tough tournament, so every week’s a test.”
Sophomore Daniel Flores, who earned fourth place in the 149-pound bracket, won his first two matches of the tournament, but lost his third and toughest match by two points to Dalton Kelly from Cal State Bakersfield.
“It’s just the start of the season getting in the rhythm of everything,” Flores said. “(I’m) kinda getting used to a new weight class.”
Flores noted that most of the younger players did well in the tournament, including freshman Dylan Furtado.
“He’s already 4-1 today. He’s beating a lot of kids that were better than him in high school, and so he’s developed over this time in college now,” Flores said. “So we have a lot of young freshman that look pretty good.”
After today’s fairly successful tournament, Flores said he looks forward to their upcoming challenges.
“We have to work hard. We still got a lot of time left since this is the first tournament,” he said. “So, we have a lot of developing to do.”
The Gators return to the wrestling mat on Nov. 10 for the Roadrunner Invitational at Cal State Bakersfield.