3 win state wrestling titles; Osceola second
By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette
Osceola’s mission to win a second state title will have to wait at least one more year. Although it sent nine wrestlers to the state meet and won two individual titles, the Kowboys (127.5) finished second to Homestead South Dade High School (174.5) at the FHSAA Class 3A state wrestling tournament at the Lakeland Center Saturday. It was the eighth straight time Osceola has finished in the top five in the state 3A meet.
Osceola’s Fox Baldwin (52-0) won a county-record fourth consecutive state championship at 160 pounds, and teammate Ben Cruz (53-1) won his first state title at 220 pounds, in overtime.
In Class 2A, Harmony’s only competitor, Sawyer Root (50-3) won a state championship in overtime at 182 pounds to give the Longhorns (23) enough points for a 22nd place team finish.
Gateway, behind fifth-place finishes from juniors Jacquan Loney (132) and Ismeal Deltoro (220), finished 21st in the 3A team competition with 24 points.
“We knew winning a state championship was going to be tough this year because we really didn’t have the numbers,” Osceola Coach Jim Bird said. “Still I couldn’t be prouder of this group. They overachieved all season and I thought wrestled a great state meet.”
Bird noted that he was already looking forward to the 2014-15 season. “We have a nice group coming back and our junior varsity just won the state championship,” Bird said. “We’ll enjoy this season for a couple of days and get back to work on Monday morning.”