The winter sports scene gets back into full swing this week as the Holiday break ends. Here’s a look in and around Osceola:

In order to create more of a team aspect to the sport, the FHSAA added a Dual Meet State Championship to its wrestling roster five years ago. The top 16 teams in each of three classes will meet at Osceola High School on Jan. 21-22 to determine state dual meet team champions for Classes A, AA, and AAA. Qualifications for the state tournament begin this week with District Championships being held from Wednesday through Saturday at various sites around the state.

Harmony will be favored to advance to the regional competition when they participate in the Class 3A, District 9 meet at Tohopekaliga on Saturday. The Longhorns’ biggest challenge will most likely come from Freedom High. “We have some pretty solid depth this year,” Harmony head coach Vic Lorenzano said. “Freedom had a good program but our goal is to win districts and host regionals next week.”

Osceola, which has made it to the state finals in all four previous years of the Dual Meet Championships, begins its journey on Wednesday at the Class 3A District 5 meet at Celebration; where Poinciana will also compete. While St. Cloud, Gateway, and Liberty will compete in Class 2A, Region 2, District 8 meet at Winter Springs.

Osceola, 8-3, participated in a Holiday Tournament where they defeated Eau Gallie, 79-66, in their first game but lost to both Wellington (70-33) and University (59-42). Harmony (6-5) finished second a Holiday tournament, defeating Lyman (49-42) before suffering a narrow 62-58 loss to host Mt. Dora in the championship game. The two teams are slated to meet at Osceola High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in the Positively Osceola Game of the Week.

After losing a narrow 54-53 game to the Kowboys before Christmas vacation, Gateway has gone on a six-game winning streak. Although they were scheduled to play in two tournaments, Covid dropouts turned the events into neutral site round-robin games with no champion named. Still, the Panthers went undefeated in both events, defeating Eustis, Palm Bay, and Frostproof in one tournament and Bishop Kenny, Father Lopez and Nease in the other. “We’re healthy and really playing well together,” Travis James said about his team that is now 12-4. “We’ll know a lot more about our team when we play Apopka (11-2) on Saturday. Ja’marie Sibley and Jordan Ford were named to the all-tournament teams of both events.

With a three-game winning streak before the break, Tohopekaliga enters January with a 5-4 record. The Tigers are bidding for their first winning season in school history. Celebration (3-7), Liberty (4-6), and Poinciana (4-6) entered January with sub .500 records.

Gateway has won eight of its last nine games and will take a solid 13-4 record into the New Year. The Lady Panthers went 5-1 in tournament play during the Christmas break, with their only loss coming to
Rockledge (54-46) on Dec. 23.

St. Cloud won four of six during the break to go to 10-5 on the season. Sophomore Emily Lockey was averaging almost 15 points a game for the Lady Bulldogs. After going 5-58 in the first 63 games in school history, including losing their first four games of this season, the Tohopekaliga Tigers (5-4) have won five straight. Sophomore Makena Day was averaging 11.4 points per game for Tohopekaliga.

Poinciana (5-7) and Osceola (3-5) were within a couple of games of the .500 mark; while Celebration (2-9) and Harmony (1-9) have struggled.

Celebration was idle during the Christmas Break and will take a 7-0-3 record into the second half of the season. The Storm has allowed just four goals all season, outscoring opposition 37-4. Gateway (3-3-1), Tohopekaliga (4-4-2), St. Cloud (4-3-2), and Harmony (5-4-1) all took records of .500 or above into the second half of the season.

With the second half of the season getting underway this week, Gateway (4-2-1), Harmony (5-4-1), and Celebration (5-5-1) were all at .500 or above. Erin Ozyurek had 14 goals for the Storm at the break.

Former Osceola High wrestler Malyke Hines was 4-3 for Lehigh University. Hines qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year as a sophomore….former St. Cloud standout Eno Inyang is a key reserve on the Clemson University (6-7) basketball team. She is averaging 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while playing about 15 minutes per game. Freshman DeWayne McGee had a huge season for Lenoir-Rhyne. The former Osceola star had 511 yards rushing in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, which preserved his freshman status for 2021. This season, he led Lenoir –Rhyne to an 8-3 record, rushing for 1669 yards and 19 touchdowns – earning Division II All-America status. The South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, McGee’s 1669 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns were both school records. Former Gateway star Dennis Briggs had six tackles and ½ sack for Florida State before suffering a season-ending injury. Former Osceola lineman Mario Kendricks played in eight games for Virginia Tech recording six tackles and a sack.