KISSIMMEE -- While Alan Morano continues to blaze a new trail for Bradenton Christian, Marshall Craig has a chance to add to Manatee's proud wrestling tradition.
The two 113-pound wrestlers are each headed to the state semifinals after winning within moments of each other early during the second round of their respective tournaments Friday at Silver Spurs Arena.
Morano, who became the Panthers' first state qualifier last weekend, is now BCS' first semifinalist. Craig, a junior, is two wins away from becoming the Hurricanes' 18th state champion and is the third Cane to reach the semifinals in the last two years.
"He's carrying on that family tradition," Manatee head coach Andrew Gugliemini said.
Craig and Morano are the only two Manatee County wrestlers still in contention for a state title after their second-round wins at Osceola Heritage Park. Craig, who won a match at the Class 3A tournament last year, is guaranteed his first top-six finish and will face Miami Southwest Miami's Angel Perez in the semifinals at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday in Kissimmee. Morano will face
Orlando Lake Highland Prep's Noah Castillo.
Perez is the No. 2 wrestler at his weight class in Class 3A, according to Scout.com, and Castillo is ranked No. 1.
"That's going to be a tough matchup, but he's ready to go," Bradenton Christian head coach Jonathan Kliewer said. "He's kind of had the advantage of flying under the radar because he's an eighth-grade kid against a lot of these returning guys. I think he's going to come in and surprise a lot of people tomorrow."
County schools sent seven wrestlers to the second round, but only Craig and Morano won. Seven others advanced to the second day of the tournament through wrestlebacks, including three from Southeast. Jonathan Locke (152), Stephen Kelle (170) and Darrien Grant (195) all bounced back from second-round losses to win their final contests of the day and remain in contention to place in Class 1A.
The Hurricanes are the only other team with multiple wrestlers advancing to Saturday. Juniors Charles Small (145) and Connor Morang (170) also bounced back from second-round losses with wins in wrestlebacks.
Lakewood Ranch senior Dylan Cameron regrouped after a first-round loss with back-to-back wins to advance to the second day of the 3A tournament, and Braden River junior Chance Sharbono recovered after a second-round loss to advance in Class 2A. Four other wrestlers -- two Canes, and one Seminole and one from Palmetto -- bowed out.
"We've got another place winner," Gugliemini said, "but let's keep going, see how high up on that podium we can get."
Both Craig and Morano, who were top seeds after winning their respective regions, breezed through the first round. Craig, who is ranked No. 6, shut out Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas' Gianni Guerrero in the first round for a seven-point win. Morano overwhelmed Orlando Bishop Moore Catholic's Nick Walker for a nine-point victory.
The second round challenged both before they pulled out late wins. Craig, who lost in the second round last year in Kissimmee, started slowly against Hollywood Hills' Anthony Silvestre. By the second period, Craig returned to the form that carried him into the second round to secure a convincing 6-2 win.
"I was going in with a lot more confidence than last year," Craig said. "I just went in with a game plan."
Morano, who remains unranked, took an early lead against Jacksonville University Christian's Daniel Porter before the Jacksonville University Christian 113-pounder jumped ahead 4-3.
Morano trailed for only about 30 seconds, but this was the first time an opponent scored offensive points against him during the postseason. Kliewer is impressed by how calm Morano has remained as the stages have gotten larger and Morano's season on the line he scored the final four points to win 7-4.
"It didn't really faze him," Kliewer said. "The size of the event doesn't matter to him."
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be contacted at 941-745-7057 or on Twitter @DBWilson2.