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Hines’ state title repeat highlights wrestlers’ big day at state

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 11:02 am

By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette

Heading into this season the Osceola High wrestling team was riding two impressive streaks. For 11 seasons running, the Kowboy grapplers had finished no lower than sixth in the team competition and had seen at least one of its wrestlers win an individual state title in each of those 11 seasons.

Thanks to junior Malyke Hines and some unexpected support from teammates at several weight classes, both streaks have been validated and kept alive.

News-Gazette photo/Martin Maddock
Osceola High wrestler Malyke Hines won a second-straight state wrestling championship Saturday, taking down South Dade’s Tyler Khawly-Orta in a 16-3 major decision to win the Class 3A 126-pound weight class at Silver Spurs Arena. Hines, along with his brother, freshman Jaekus Hines, who was the 106-pound runner-up, the Kowboys placed fourth in the 3A team standings.

Hines, a junior, ran through the 126-pound weight class to capture a second consecutive individual title, while his team picked up points in four additional weight classes to capture fourth place in the Class 3A competition.

Osceola (97.5 points) trailed Hagerty (108), Fleming Island (140) and South Dade (230), who won the team championship for a fifth consecutive year, in the standings.

“I could not be more pleased or happy with our team’s performance,” Osceola Coach Jim Bird said. “I think the general consensus was that we were due for a down year. Instead, Malyke won a state title, we had two freshmen place for the first time in school history, and we got fourth place points from a football player who never wrestled before. We just received some outstanding efforts all the way around.”

Bird said team wasn’t motivated by the two streaks.

“It’s something that we do know about and something that we take pride in,” he said.

Without question, Hines was the star of the meet for county wrestlers. After winning Friday’s first round and quarterfinal matches by first-period pin, he defeated Fleming Island’s Jacob Sandoval by second-period pin fall in semifinals before dominating South Dade’s Tyler Khawly-Orta in a 16-3 major decision in the finals.

“I had a good meet and a good season,” Hines said following the match. “The most important thing is that I felt that I got better from last season. It’s always my goal to try to get better each year and I felt that I accomplished that.”

Hines went 60-2 last year and won the state 120-pound. weight class. He finished this season at 50-1 and has now gone 173-4 in his high school career.

Hines added that he was more nervous watching his freshman brother Jaekus, the 106-pound runner-up. Jaekus was one of the two freshmen to place for the Kowboys. To do so he upset Hagerty’s Ryan Rowland, 4-2, in overtime in the semifinal, before losing a hard-fought 6-3 decision to South Dade’s Luis Peraza in the finals.

Osceola’s other freshman to place was Nolin Eaddy, who lost in the second round of the 152-pound class but won three straight matches in the consolation bracket to make it to the third place match where he fell to Haggerty’s Logan Perkins in a close 9-7 match.

Dion Bergan, a senior defensive lineman on Osceola’s football team, came out for wrestling for the first time in his career and earned all-state honors with a fourth-place finish at 285 pounds. Osceola’s other points came from Easau Bazilme, who placed fifth at 113, and junior Josue Calderon, who won two matches at 120.

In Class 2A, the Harmony Longhorns sent four wrestlers to the state tournament, led by senior Carter Harris at 285 pounds. In his return trip to the state tournament, Harris advanced all the way to the finals where he lost an 8-0 decision to Braden River’s Brendan Bengtsson in the championship match, capping a 65-6 season.

“It was an incredible journey for Carter, and astounding to watch his transformation in only his second year of wrestling, with over 60 victories this season, win the Conference, (Tony) Ippolito, District, and Region Championships and earn state runner-up,” Harmony Coach Vic Lorenzano said. “Carter’s only losses were to the 1A state champion, the 3A state Champion, 3A runner-up, 2A state champion, and a loss he avenged in the region championship.”

News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock
Harmony wrestler Carter Harris (right) battled Braden River’s Brendan Bengtsson in the Class 2A 285-pound class championship match Saturday en route to earning a state runner-up finish.

At 113 pounds, Owen Wetzel finished his senior season with a fourth-place finish and 62-10 record.

“Just before heading to camp in Iowa (this summer), Coach Grillo and I told Owen Wetzel he was a state caliber wrestler,” Lorenzano said. “He told us he just didn’t see himself that way. We told him you’ve got to trust us.”

Dylan Jones (126) and Dhvanha Hill (160) did not place but scored team points for Harmony (46 points), which finished 11th in Class 2A. Lake Gibson (160.5) won the state championship long-time power Brandon (139.5).

The only other county wrestler to earn all-state honors was Liberty senior Jonathan Figueroa (51-10), who placed sixth in 2A at 138 pounds. Celebration sent three wrestlers to the state tournament, with Alfonso Serrano scoring the only points for the Storm with a pair of wins at 182 pounds.

Orlando’s Lake Highland Prep (333 points), ranked seventh nationally among all high school wrestling teams, won seven individual weight classes, put 11 wrestlers in finals and successfully defended its Class 1A championship with a record-breaking win over second place Clay (109).