Sports Editor

OHS WR Jaekus Hines

Osceola's Jaekus Hines was the Class 3A 120-pound state runner-up as a sophomore. To get back to the Silver Spurs Arena he'll have to excel in Friday's District 3A-5 meet in the Kowboy gym.

The three weeks that high school wrestlers work all year for have arrived.

It’s crunch time on the mat.

The district meets are this weekend, where tickets are punched to the regional round, the precursor to the state meet March 9 at the Silver Spurs Arena.

Luckily for the county’s wrestlers, they’ll get to stay close to home this weekend.

Osceola will host the District 3A-5 meet Friday beginning at 12:30 p.m. and welcome Gateway, Celebration, St. Cloud, Tohopekaliga, Haines City, Ridge, Lake Nona and Melbourne.

Harmony has the 2A-6 meet Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. with Poinciana, Liberty, East River, Deltona, New Smyrna Beach, Pine Ridge and Seabreeze.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class moves on to next weekend’s regionals at Osceola (3A) and Brandon (2A).

Harmony Coach Vic Lorenzano reported that, for the first time in weeks, the Longhorns have a nearly-intact and healthy lineup. 120-pounder Alvaro Morzan (30-11) is back from an injury suffered just before the state duals tournament in January. Junior Dean Miller (113, 5-1) and senior Josh Hall (138, 19-13) are also set to return.

“It is great to have Morzan and Miller back in the line up. We are hitting on all cylinders right now and feel pretty good about the post season run,” Lorenzano said. “We are excited to be at nearly full strength for the first time since our Christmas tournament.  Having Dean, Al, and Josh back is a big boost for the guys and raises our level of excitement to compete this weekend. Got to take them one match at a time the whole way.”

The Longhorns have a handful of wrestlers who will likely stay busy the next couple of weekends: Aiden Poe (106, 35-6), Dylan Jones (126, 36-3), Melvin Ewen (132, 44-11), Sean Seery (152, 35-16), Will Jacobson (170, 36-14), Avery Hamm (182, 29-15), Juan Gomez (195, 40-9) and Darren Davis (285, 29-22).

The story is the opposite for multi-year district and region champ Osceola.

“We are missing five guys that were projected to start at the beginning of the year,” Coach Jim Bird said. “But we will be ready to go to battle with what we have.”

Two-time state champion Malyke Hines takes an undefeated (41-0) record into the postseason at 138 pounds, and brother Jaekus Hines, a 120-pound state-runner up last year, is 32-5. Zayveon Mitchell (132, 16-6), Adriel Martinez (145, 19-11), Chase Fuller (152, 24-13), Nolin Eaddy (160, 20-9) and Dylan Ruiz (220, 23-11) are expected to move on through to regionals.

Poinciana, seeing a resurgence under Coach Randy Beeken with a full lineup of 30 wrestlers after barely having seven last year, could make some noise this weekend. At last weekend’s Master’s Academy Mat Mayhem invitational, Levi Lewis was the 113-pound champion, Marvin Trigueros won at 152 and Quaylen Hill and Ben Brown were first and third at heavyweight.