Heading into the final of the Class 3A FHSAA State Duals Wrestling Championship on Jan. 25, Osceola Head Coach Jim Bird knew his team was a long shot to defeat South Dade from Homestead.
After all, the Buccaneers had won the previous two championships since the format was created three years ago, and they had won the six previous state championships of the traditional bracket tournament.
So, Bird knew going in that it was highly unlikely Osceola could pull an upset, but that was hardly enough to keep him from grinning from ear to ear.
His team had defied the odds be defeating highly favored Palm Harbor in the quarterfinals (33-28), and Wellington in the semifinals (34-33), to reach the championship match.
And although the Kowboys would lose 57-13 in the finals, Bird was ecstatic with his team’s performance.
“A great weekend and a great accomplishment for our program,” Bird said. “We had some young kids step up and win matches that no one thought they would. A second place finish in this format is an awesome team accomplishment. “
Even in the loss, Bird found a lot to be positive about. Both Jaekus Hines and Nolin Eaddy continued their dominating seasons with victories at 132 and 182.
Osceola’s freshman Cooper Haase pulled a major upset in the finals, defeating Adrian Morales in the 106-pound class by a 2-1 score. Morales was the top ranked wrestler in the state in Class 3A.
Bird also pointed to the performance of George Duncan, who lost a 5-4 decision to Alexander Couto, the state’s top ranked wrestler at 120.
“George just keeps getting better and better. He wrestled a great match against a ranked kid and almost pulled out a win.”
Tanaevius Sharpshire, another state ranked wrestler at 220, needed a penalty point to beat Osceola’s Dylan Ruiz, 4-3.
Osceola took a nail-biting trip to get to the finals. Trailing 24-12 to Palm Harbor, the Kowboys won their last six matches to get the win.
Surprise wins by underclassmen Joel Campbell (190) and Marvin Caballero (220) spurred Osceola to the victory.
Five straight wins in the upper weight classes led to the one point win in the Wellington victory.
Osceola returns to action this weekend at the Greco Invitational at Tampa Steinbrenner. All eight county schools will be in action next week at the Orange Belt Championship at Harmony.