The second edition of the state high school dual wrestling state championships that start Friday at Osceola High School will have a local flavor.
Harmony, in Class 2A, and the host 3A Kowboys survived a regional round of duals last week to punch tickets to their class’ final round of 8.
Quarterfinals in Class 1A (starting at 3 p.m., highlighted by dominant defending champion Lake Highland Prep), 2A and 3A will be Friday. Semifinals and finals will be held Saturday starting at 10 a.m. As set by the state, tickets are $9 in purchased in advance at fhsaa.org or $12 at the door. Parking is $5.
The tournament is a veritable Who’s-Who of Florida’s top high school wrestling programs. The Longhorns get a stern test right away, drawing defending the 2A duals champions Lake Gibson in a quarterfinal scheduled to start at 5 p.m.
“Coach Dan Walker and his staff have built a great program over there. We are excited to take our team to the state duals and get our noses bloodied,” HHS Coach Vic Lorenzano said of Lake Gibson. “We are no stranger to them, we face these teams every year. On paper, we are clear underdogs. We have told our guys to get into the fight, pin your ears back and scrap. That is the message —battle hard and don't concede anything other than immense respect for Dan and his team. This is a great event and our first opportunity to be in it.”
Osceola will open with Riverview High on Friday when the 3A quarterfinals start, around 7 p.m. Riverview knocked of Palm Harbor University, who beat the Kowboys in the 2018 version of this event in the Elite 8, in the regional round. South Dade is the defending champion and is also in the field; Osceola would wrestle them or Cypress Bay Saturday afternoon with a win over Riverview Friday night.
OHS Coach Jim Bird said Riverview’s entire lineup basically consists of wrestlers winning over 80 percent of their bouts.
“Not one kid in their line up has a losing record. They look really good,” Bird said. “We will try to find a way to make it competitive.”
At last week’s regionals at Strawberry Crest High the District 3A-5 dual champion Kowboys, led by their lighter weight classes, were dominant in a preliminary win over George Jenkins, 61-15. Celebration, the 3A-5 runners up, stepped up and topped the host Chargers, 48-34. In the regional final, Osceola toppled Celebration, 59-21.
This weekend, Bird took his top talent to suburban Philadelphia — yes, they ran the Rocky steps and had cheesesteaks — to compete in the Escape the Rock wrestling tournament at Council Rock South High School, and two-time Class 3A state champion Malyke Hines beat a field of the area’s best wrestlers at 138 pounds.
Harmony hosted their regional, and opened Thursday with a 63-9 thumping of Belleview for the right to take on Spring Hill Springstead, the 2011-13 traditional state champions who also reached the 2A duals semifinals last year. Led by their middleweights, the Longhorns romped to an early lead and didn’t look back in a 57-20 victory to grab their first state tournament berth in duals. Alvaro Morzan, Dylan Jones, Melvin Ewen, Sean Seery, Will Jacobson, Avrey Hamm, Juan Gomez all recorded pins in against Springstead.