NEWARK -- Quinten Wright of Alhambra does tend to stand out from the crowd at a wrestling tournament.
The senior stands 6-foot-6 with a slender build -- unlike the rest of his competition in the 220-pound weight class. He not only stands out physically, he's usually standing on the medal platform at the end of the day.
Wright is seeded second in the North Coast Section championships, and raised his record to 29-2 on Friday as he moved into the semifinal round by pinning Maria Carrillo's Montana Pawek in 1:28. He faces Livermore's Matthew Neale in the semifinal Saturday.
Wright, who was 4-2 at NCS last year, looks like he's more suited to pulling down rebounds on the basketball court -- and he said the basketball coaches at Alhambra have been trying to get him off the mat and under the basket.
"When I was younger they were always trying to get me to play basketball, but I've never liked the sport," Wright said. "It's all the contact. I like wrestling. I like the challenge, the amount of work you have to put into it."
Wright has been wrestling since his freshman year when coach Tom Viglienzone talked Wright into giving wrestling a try, but last year was his first trip to NCS.
"I've started growing into my body better," he said.
As the No. 2 seed, Wright is expected to meet College Park's Matt Zachary in the final. Even though the two schools are neighboring rivals, Wright and Zachary have never met head-to-head since the two teams rarely compete in the same tournaments.
Wright made quick work of the opposition. He opened with a 55-second pin of Freedom's John Nevis, then dispensed Berean Christian's John Whaley in 1:20.
"I was a little bit sloppy in that match, but other than that I'm doing good," he said.
Wright will now face Livermore's Matthew Neale in one semifinal, while Zachary takes on Foothill's Dustin Dukleth in the other.
Wright is one of two Bulldogs to reach the semifinals. Max Licht defeated Lower Lake's Dominick Dingess 11-6 at 145 pounds, one of the minor upsets of the tournament. Licht is seeded sixth, while third-seeded Dingess came into the match with his right wrist heavily bandaged. Dingess had some control in the first round, but began to fade and was in obvious pain during the last minute.
POWER PLAY: The East Bay Athletic League showed that it is still a force in wrestling, with almost one-third of its entries reaching the semifinals.
Aside from the De La Salle quintet of Donovin Guerrero (106), David Conte (126), Nathan Cervantes (132), Marcello Orozco (160) and Gavin Hummel (172), another eight EBAL wrestlers went 3-0 Friday: Michael McDaniel, Monte Vista (113); Tommy Yozzo, Amador Valley (132); Angel Beltran, Granada (145); Arthur Knatt, Foothill (170); Connor Veit, Amador Valley (182); Cody McNaney, Livermore (195); and 220-pounders Dustin Dulkleth of Foothill and Matthew Neale of Livermore.
THE LITTLE GUYS: Two of the smallest schools in the East Bay came close to making a big presence on the first day of the tournament. Lakin Moser, at 170 pounds, is the first wrestler from the Athenian School in Danville to be seeded into the tournament, landing the No. 6 spot. He opened with a 14-4 victory over Julian Lopez of Ukiah, then decisioned Lower Lake's Ryan Dahnekel.
But in the quarterfinals he was pinned by Freedom's Alex Bazan. Two victories in the consolation bracket would assure him of becoming the school's first NCS wrestling placewinner.
Nick Toro, the 285-pounder for Livermore Valley Charter, a member of the Bay Area Conference, had earned a little buzz when he popped up among the Honorable Mentions this season in the California Wrestler state rankings. He won his first match in buzz-worthy fashion, pinning Liberty's Ryan Vanderwerf in 25 seconds, but was pinned by third-seeded Darlise Jones of Hayward in his next bout. His trip to NCS ended one match later with a 1-0 loss to Abdul Kayumy of Kennedy-Fremont.