Amphitheater finished the first day of the Division III, Section II meet with a tournament-best eight wrestlers remaining in the championship bracket.
Seniors Floyd Jones and Austin Andrade put exclamation points on the Panthers' performance with back-to-back pins to close out action in the winners' bracket Friday at Sabino.
Gilbert Campo Verde led the 17-team field with 98 1/2 points at the end of the day. Amphi, paced by Jones and Andrade, was a close second with 91 points.
The semifinals begin at 10 a.m. today.
Andrade, a heavyweight, quickly pinned Rio Rico's Ben Crossley in 1 minute 32 seconds. Minutes later Jones, a 220-pounder, pinned Campo Verde's Bryce Duffy in 3:12 to advance to the semifinals.
In the 115-pound bracket, Marcus Salnicky pinned Catalina's Ricardo Carranza in 2:41 and was the first Panther of the day to advance.
"Everybody's points count," Jones said. "Even if it's by decision, tech or pin, everybody's points count for us to win this tournament. Even the people in consolation, if they lose and keep winning, we can win this."
Sahuarita stood third with 79 points and five wrestlers in the championship bracket. Andres Vasquez - who placed sixth at state last year - had a 4-2 decision to advance and will face Douglas 154-pounder Felipe Linares.
Host Sabino followed in fourth with 76.5 points and five wrestlers alive for titles.
Top-seeded Sabercats Davey Basila (128), Matt Repp (134) and David Ramirez (162) each advanced to the semifinals, which start today at 10 a.m.
"I just had the mindset going in to win because it's my last year" Basila said after pinning his opponent in 22 seconds.
Safford's Trey Andrews - a three-time state champ - pinned Empire's Alex Colpo in 3:28 to move on to the semifinals of the 122-pound bracket, and the Bulldogs finished the day fifth with 69 points and five wrestlers alive in the semifinals.
"At the beginning of the week my asthma was killing me," Andrews said. "It feels like I can just fight through it. I still have to do a lot of medicine and stuff and I should be wrestling to the top again."
Rio Rico - who placed third at state last year - finished the day eighth. Defending state champion Marky Lopez won by tech fall, leading 16-0, but he was still disappointed he didn't win with a pin.
"I wasn't happy about it, but a win is a win," Lopez said. "I thought I should have done it faster. I wanted a tech and then pin, but time ran out."
Eric Jeong, a 134-pounder, and Pablo Chavez, a 184-pounder, also advanced after both placing at state last year
The top five from each weight class qualify for next week's state meet. Therefore, berths in the championship and third-place matches today guarantee spots at the state meet.
"We'll come out and take it one match at a time (today)," Andrade said. "Warm up the same, get everything the same and we'll be back."
Division II, Section II
Ironwood Ridge, the defending Division II state champion, leads its sectional meet after the opening day at Flowing Wells.
Coach Tim Berrier's squad has 126 points heading into today's semifinals.
The Nighthawks have a 36-point lead on second-place Marana. The Tigers sit at 90 points.
Queen Creek (87 points) and Mountain View (82 1/2) and third and fourth, respectively, and Cholla and Cienega are tied for fifth with 64 points.