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OHS girls state wrestling champs earning accolades

Posted on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Luciano signs scholarship to King College; Yambo to wrestle with Puerto Rican national squad

By Ken Jackson
Sports Editor

It’s not unusual for wrestlers in the Osceola High program to reach heights, win accolades and make it into the headlines.

The sanctioned boys wrestling bracket offers them chances to win state titles and be more recognizable when they attend national competitions, but the Kowgirls’ female wrestling program earned a spot on the marquee this year, as well.

Three Osceola wrestlers earned state championships this year at February’s invitational tournament held at Dr. Phillips High — Ana Luciano won her third at 154 pounds, Kaelyn Martinez made it back-to-back at 147, and Abnelis Yambo, who came from Puerto Rico to seek refuge from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and had to make the in-season switch from wrestling freestyle to folkstyle, was the 140-pound winner.

Now, two of them are getting further rewards, as Luciano will follow her stellar high school career with what could be further rewards at the college level, where she’ll wrestle on scholarship this fall at King College near Bristol, Tenn. as part of one of a couple dozen women’s collegiate wrestling programs. And Yambo will return to Puerto Rico to wrestle with its national team beginning June 2.

Luciano said her grant is “almost a full ride,” and she plans to major in criminal justice, of with King has a program.

“I’d like to become an FBI agent in the future,” she said.

She began wrestling in seventh grade, and it went from a hobby to a passion that will help pay for college.

News-Gazette Photo/Ken Jackson
Ana Luciano signs a womens’ wrestling scholarship with King (Tenn.) College.

“I really liked the sport once I started and really wanted to keep on with it in college,” she said. “My junior year, I did really well at a national freestyle tournament and it got me seriously. This year, my senior year, has been a roller coaster of emotions, I’ve been sad sometimes that my high school career is ending.”

OHS wrestling assistant Coach Glover worked with Luciano her entire high school career, and saw her drive early.

“Freshman year she was a top dog coming out of middle school but she didn’t win for like a month,” he said. “That just set her jaw, because she lost one high school match, at the state finals, the rest of her career. Late sophomore year, you started seeing her after practice, during the summer, going to Nationals, getting mad when she’d get awards but not win, just put the awards away and not look at them. That’s when we knew she was hard core.”

As for Yambo, despite being a newcomer — she didn’t arrive in Kissimmee until October — she along with Luciano at 144 pounds was ranked in the top 10 nationally among high school girls at 138 by USA Wrestling.

She wrestled at times on the boys team this season. The girls state tournament was a new experience for her, one she said she’s glad she got to experience.

“It felt good to wrestle at that competition and that my training paid off,” she said.

“It was a tough year with all the changes. It just made me want to train harder and win all the time when I get back home to Puerto Rico.”