By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
Orange Belt Conference team sports tournaments return to the menu for the first time in almost two years as the baseball championship will be contested this week starting today at 7 p.m.
The Covid epidemic cancelled spring sports two years ago and when they returned last year, the pandemic and other issues resulted in team sports playing round robin competition to determine OBC titles – rather than the traditional week-long tournaments.
“We wanted to resume OBC Tournaments for this spring, but many teams and sports did not have their schedules finalized,” County Athletics Director Ryan Day said. “We were able to put together a week for a baseball tournament for this year and starting next fall we should be able to have an OBC Tournament Week for all team sports.”
Today’s OBC schedule will find the top four seeds hosting first round games with top-seeded Osceola (9-4) hosting #8 Poinciana (2-12); #7 Gateway (2-6) at #2 Harmony (5-7); #3 Liberty (7-5) hosting #6 St. Cloud (2-10) and #5 Celebration (4-5) at #4 Tohopekaliga (4-4). Semifinals are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday on campus at highest seeded schools; with losers playing in the consolation bracket. Osceola High School will host the third place (5 p.m.) and championship game (7 p.m.) on Friday. Seedings where determined by the state rankings as of Mar. 28.
Inclement weather wiped out a big portion of the 30th Annual Roger Jones Kissimmee Klassic this past weekend. Officials and groundskeepers did the best they could to get as many games as possible in and the championship games were in the third inning when a thunderstorm wiped out the rest of the tournament. In the Blue Division, Bartow won its first three games and was up 4-0 against University in the championship game. University graciously declared Bartow the winner, as the top ranked 6A team in Florida went to 16-1 on the season with the title. Lake Wales and Deltona each went 3-0 in bracket play to advance to the championship game of the gold bracket. The championship trophy was awarded to Deltona on a coin flip. Host Osceola got two games in the tournament, losing a 3-2 game in 10 innings to Lake Wales and dropping a 8-3 decision to Mantanza. The Lady Kowboys will take a 3-6 record into the second half of the season.
With a 5-3 win over rival St. Cloud on Friday, Harmony moved to 5-3 on the season. St. Cloud fell to 5-5; while with a 22-0 win over Gateway, Liberty was also over .500 on the season with a 5-4 mark.
With wins over Lake Buena Vista (14-4) and Lyman (12-3) last week, the Tohopekaliga boys’ lacrosse team reached 10 season wins (10-5) for the second straight year. The Tigers who began the sport in 2020, are 24-9 over the last two years. Lonnie Flores Jr. leads the Tigers with 33 goals. The Celebration boys’ team, behind the offensive fireworks of brothers Zerek (24 goals) and Zach (23 goals) Zelmanski, was 5-4 on the season and 2-1 in district play.
The Tohopekaliga girls’ team won a pair of games last week to go to 9-5 on the season. A pair of sophomores Lauren Schira and Melina Swaisgood led the Tigers with 57 and 33 goals respectively.
Celebration girls’ are 10-3 and 2-0 in district play. Erin Beah-Balbotin has 47 goals and freshman Abigael Lochner has 42.
Twenty-eight teams competed in the prestigious Tohopekaliga Track Invitational last week, including teams from Harmony, Celebration, Osceola, St. Cloud and host-Tohopekaliga. Harmony’s top performances on the girls’ side included Thora Gaston (1st – Javelin),), Drea Thompson (1st- high jump), Elizabeth Hernstrom (2nd – Pole Vault), and the 4 x 800 relay team (1st). On the boys’ side, top Longhorn performers included Alex Tuyo (4th in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles), Joel Jean (1st- 1600-meter run), and Chris Eckholdt (2nd-Pole Vault).
Osceola High saw Shannon Levy go first in the 100-meter dash with Quanaya Jenkins taking fifth. The girls 4 x 100 relay took 3rd and the 4 x 400 relay took second place. Bo Mascoe took third in the 100.
Tohopekaliga’s Orlando Descartes had a huge meet, winning the high jump (1.9 meters) and taking second in the javelin (45.04 meters). Julian Pomales was second in the 3200-meter run for the Tigers.
John Ortiz-Torres had a pair of top eight finishes for St. Cloud, taking 6th in the 800-meters and third in the 1600-meters.
All eight county teams will compete in the Orange Belt Conference Championship meet on April 13.
In a game that would most-likely decide the OBC Championship, Harmony (7-1, 5-0 OBC) will travel to St. Cloud (4-2, 4-0 OBC) on Tuesday night. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
With a month to go in the regular season, Celebration (9-1) has already clinched the boys OBC Championships with a 6-0 conference record. St. Cloud (11-6) was 3-2 in OBC play.
St. Cloud golfer Tanner Allore has signed to play golf at St. Thomas University. He averaged 40 in nine-hole matches for St. Cloud. Lady Bulldogs shortstop Hannah Nasco, who hit .435 with 30 RBI and 32 Runs scored in 24 games last season, signed a national letter of intent to play softball for Jacksonville University. Toho’s Lonnie Flores Jr. has signed to play college lacrosse with Point University in West Point, Ga.