It was not the team performance Head Coach Vic Lorenzano was looking for at the Class 2A FHSAA state Wrestling Tournament over the weekend, but the Harmony Longhorns still concluded one of the best seasons in school history capping off the meet with JC McNichols claiming all-state honors with a fourth place finish in the 126-pound weight class.
McNichols took the long road to that finish after being pinned in his first round match by Barron Collier’s Roy Chiong. He would record pinfalls in the first three consolation rounds before meeting Mater Academy’s Favian Aldana in the consolation semifinals— also known as the “blood round” as a win is needed to insure a spot on the podium and to earn All-State honors.
McNichols pinned Aldana, advancing to meet Coconut Creek’s Michael Sargon in the third place match, where he lost a tough 6-2 decision.
“JC had a great meet. To lose in the first round and get all the way back to the third place match was a great accomplishment. He gave Saragon a good contest, it was a kid that pinned him earlier in the season:’ Lorenzano said. JC is just a sophomore and nothing beats the state tournament for experience”
Although Harmony took a school record six wrestlers to the tournament, unseated county power Osceola to win the Orange Belt Conference Championship, captured a district title and placed third in the ultra-competitive regional tournament, the state championship was a difficult one for the Longhorns.
Five of the six Harmony wrestlers went down to defeat in the first round, with Will Jacobson (172) the only wrestler to win a match in the opening round. Johnson would fall in the second round to Mantanza’s Quenteen Robinson, before being eliminated by Angelo Philpot, of Westside, in the second consolation round.
Harmony’s other top advancer was Aiden Poe at 113-pounds.
He lost his opening match via pinfall, but rallied for a pair of victories before seeing his season end in the consolation quarterfinals with a 10-7 loss to Brandon’s Jose Berdecia.
“We didn’t win as many matches as we thought we could:’ Lorenzano said. “But we did take a record six kids to state and every one of those guys won at least one match. Five of those kids are coming back next year and we have some really good wrestlers coming up. These kids are all super competitive, so I know they aren’t overly happy or satisfied with what happened in states, but it was a great season and there’s a ton of reasons to be optimistic for the future of Harmony wrestling.’’
As expected, Lake Gibson repeated as 2A state champions, Tampa Jesuit was second. Harmony placed 14th with 34 points. Gateway (6) and Poinciana (5) each had one wrestler score points and finished tied for 41st and tied for 44th respectively.