As expected, Osceola High advanced to the Regional Round of the 2019-20 Class 3A FHSAA State Dual Wrestling Championships by cruising through the opposition and claiming the District 5 Championship last Wednesday.
Osceola went a perfect 5-0 in the round-robin competition, easily defeating Davenport Ridge (59-9), Bartow (77-0), Celebration (72-12), Plant (60-22) and Lakeland’s George Jenkins (58-19) .
As District runner-up, George Jenkins--who went 4-1 in the event--will also advance to the regional competition. Osceola will host the eight-team regional championship on Thursday, Jan. 16. The winner of the top and bottom half of the two four-team brackets from each region will advance to the state championship; which Osceola will also host on Jan. 25. Action will begin at 6 p.m.
Although his team breezed through the District competition, winning by an average of 49 points, Osceola Head Coach Jim Bird said he was not entirely happy with the performance of his club.
“If we are going to have any chance of getting out of the next round, we are going to have to wrestle better than we did today,” Bird said. “The competition will be a lot tougher in the next round and what bothered me today was the amount of pins we gave up in some of the matches. In dual meets, every point counts and I thought we gave up too many six point matches.”
Still Osceola had some solid performances.
Freshman Cooper Haase continued his outstanding season at 115-pound weight class, going 5-0 and registering a pair of pin falls. George Duncan pinned all four of his opponents and also had a forfeit win in going 5-0 at 128-pounds. He upped his season mark to 20-9.
Jaekus Hines, one of the favorites to win a state title at 132, pinned all five of his opponents and ran his record to 28-1 on the season. Hines remained undefeated against Florida competition, winning four matches at 132 and one at 140 in the district duels. His victories on Thursday included a first period pin over Plant City’s Brenton Ruedeman, who came into the match with a 21-1 record.
Adriel Martinez (154), Josean Sanchez (162), Nolin Eaddy (182), Dylan Ruiz (222) and Cody Carter (287) also went undefeated on the afternoon for the Kowboys.
Eaddy went to 26-1 on the season recording two pin falls and a technical fall with two forfeits in his five matches. Ruiz wrestled just four times, pinning all four of his opponents; while Carter picked up five victories – all by pinfall.
“We will be in the top half of the bracket and will have to probably go through both Riverview and Newsome to advance to the state tournament,” Bird said. “We definitely will have our hands full with them.”
Bird added that since the state added the Dual Meet Championships three years ago, it has added an element of excitement to the sport.
“When it comes to the tournaments and state championships, wrestling has always been about the individual but these Dual Meet Championships have really added a team element to the sport. It’s a lot of fun for the wrestlers and coaches.”
Osceola has made it to the state finals in each of the last two Dual Championships, losing in the quarterfinals to Riverview, 45-34, last season and to Palm Harbor, 37-34, during the 2017-18 finals.
Celebration finished fourth in the tournament, defeating Ridge (42-27) and Bartow (54-23) but losing to Plant, Osceola and George Jenkins.
The Storm’s top performers in the district tournament were Yan Paul Zaya, who went 4-1 at 122-pounds; Charles McBroom, who went 5-0 splitting time between 134 and 140-pounds; and Jeremiah Cirino, who went a combined 4-1 in the 140 and 147-pound weight class.