Losing in the regional playoffs has always meant the end of the line for high school teams.
But Osceola and Harmony’s wrestling squads, after falling in Friday’s opening round in the team duals state series, get new life this week with individual district, regional and state meets ahead and the chance to earn more trophies.
The Longhorns, who reached the Class 2A Final 8, drew defending duals champion Lake Gibson, and fell 65-12.
“When you compete against the top tier it goes that way sometimes, so I don’t feel bad,” HHS Coach Vic Lorenzano said. “The best thing I saw is that our kids didn’t back down for a moment and wrestled their kids for six minutes. We see where the gap is between us and them and are grateful for the opportunity to compete.”
Juan Gomez and 195 pounds and Darren Davis at 285 recorded back-to-back pins that closed the Longhorns’ deficit to 23-12, but could not find any more victories.
Gomez said he treated the event like another wrestling tournament.
“We’re just going to keep taking it day-by-day like we have been,” he said. “We just keep trusting the coaches, they have a plan. Now we go from here and work the plan.”
That plan is to jump right back into competition.
“No time to lick our wounds because we have tough tournaments coming up with Flagler Palm Coast this weekend and Brandon High School next weekend,” Lorenzano said.
Host Osceola, who also qualified for this event last year, had a great match against Riverview. The match lead changed hands four times, and the Kowboys couldn’t make an early lead hold, with the Rams winning it, 45-34.
OHS Coach Jim Bird did all he could with the lineup to be competitive, and the Kowboys took an 18-0 lead thanks to the tinkering.
“We were trying to get the momentum and throw off any game plan (Riverview) had,” he said. “It just wasn’t enough. But we’ll be fine, our guys are working hard to keep going, because there’s a lot of important matches left to wrestle.”
Wrestling up from their usual weight classes, Malyke Hines (152 pounds), Chase Fuller (160) and Nolin Eaddy (170) put Osceola in the lead with pins; Eaddy recorded his in just 26 seconds. Dylan Ruiz did the same at 220, but Riverview rallied and took a 27-24 lead when Jaekus Hines took the mat at 120.
Hines, an individual state runner-up last year, took a 14-4 major decision over Tyler Forest to put OHS back on top, 28-27. Zaveon Mitchell and the Rams’ Nikolas Hernandez followed with an epic 126-pound match. Mitchell led 3-2 for most of the third period, until Hernandez executed a two-point takedown, then registered a pin just before the final whistle to put Riverview on top for good, despite Adriel Martinez closing the match wit a pin at 145.
“It’s done and we’ve got to move on,” said Eaddy, who also made the individual state tournament last year.
In the end, Lake Gibson defended its 2A duals title, just as Lake Highland and South Dade did in 1A and 3A in Saturday’s semifinals and championships.