Two days after winning its first league title in more than four decades, the Clay wrestling team was back at practice on Monday.
"We started practice at 10 a.m.," coach Gerry Anthony said. "We have sectionals coming up this weekend (Friday-Saturday at Rogers) and we have plans on winning that, too."
Last Saturday, the Eagles scored a City League tournament record 295 points to beat defending league champion Central Catholic by 31 points for the team title at Rogers. Waite placed fourth with 148.5 points.
The Eagles also had a league-high eight seniors named to the academic All-CL squad: Garrett Ondrus, Josh Whitt, Kirk McLaughlin, Richie Urias, Derek Partin, Kas Stratidakis, Dan Fisher and Ben Morrissey.
Clay, which lost a total of nine matches during the tournament, placed a CL-record 11 wrestlers in the championship finals and won five of those matches. The Eagles also became the first CL school to win the varsity and junior varsity tournaments in the same year.
Anthony, who previously coached Clay and is now in his second year back as the Eagles' head coach, said his coaching staff wrote down a list of goals for the program prior to the 2007-08 season.
"Our goal was to finish in the top three in the City my first year," Anthony said. "We did that by taking second last year. We wanted to place in the top three in the sectional and ended up winning it last year. Our other goal was to, in the second year, win the City League championship. Another goal is to win the sectional again and place in the top three in the district."
By the end of next season, Anthony said, he would like to see Clay place in the top 10 in the state.
"If things go right," he said, "we have the opportunity to do that this year. We're very excited. We want to be there every year. We want to reload. We're going to have a young team next year."
Senior 119-pounder Richie Urias was voted the CL tournament's outstanding wrestler. Urias is 38-3 this season, but none of his losses are to league opponents. He pinned Central Catholics Dan Cook in the finals on Saturday.
"That was a major match in the finals that got us rolling in the evening," Anthony said. "Cook beat him in the finals of the City last year. Richie is just a tough kid. We're expecting big things out of him in the postseason."
Juniors Nick Garcia (103 pounds) and Mark Orth (152) and seniors Kirk McLaughlin (130) and Justin Wharton (160) all won league titles for the Eagles. Garcia and Wharton are two-time league champions.
"They all had pretty tough matches," said Anthony, who praised two other Clay wrestlers who did not win titles.
"There were some really major matches that were big during the day that were turning points," he said. "Ryan Castilleja (135), a senior, kind of upset Nico Covarrubias from Central. Our kid pinned him in the second period and that was a major win for us. Ryan lost to him 7-0 in a dual meet. Garrett Ondrus defeated the No. 1 seed, Ali El-Tatawy from Central, in the first round and that was a big swing match for us."
Anthony added that winning the CL title after a 43-year league title drought took some pressure off his wrestlers.
"The kids had definitely felt the pressure, and they responded very well," Anthony said.
Last Friday, Clay's junior varsity team won the league tournament behind individual champions Mike Screptock (103), Tyler Rowland (125), Jeremy Richard (130), Nico Castilleja (140), Matt Kohler (145), Nick Isbell (171) and Shane Gaghen (215).
"We're pretty excited about this group," Anthony said. "They've done an outstanding job. They have won or taken second in every tournament they've been in this year."