By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
With an incredible strong showing where they placed no worse than third in any of the eight team winter sports, the Harmony Longhorns have started to pull away from the other county schools as they seek their third consecutive Orange Belt Conference All Sports Championship.
Consistency pulled the Longhorns ahead of the pack in second third of the school year, as they finished no lower than third in any sport. Harmony picked up 51 of a possible 64 points in winter sports, recording second place team finishes in boys basketball, wrestling and girls soccer. Although they did not win a team title in the winter, they placed third in the other five sports of girls’ basketball, weightlifting, and girls wrestling; as well as boys’ soccer. They were also third in competitive cheer.
That total gave the Longhorns 93 points two-thirds the way through the school year, placing them 10 points in front of Celebration (83) with St. Cloud (74) third, Tohopekaliga (67) fourth and Osceola a distant fifth (48). The Kowboys tied Celebration for the most team championships in the winter with three, taking boys’ and girls’ wrestling titles and the boys’ basketball championship. Celebration took titles in boys’ and girls’ soccer and competitive cheer. St. Cloud claimed the other two championships in girls’ basketball and girls’ weightlifting.
Two spring Orange Belt Conference titles were decided last week as Harmony won both the girls’ flag football and baseball titles last week as they started to put a stranglehold grip on the 2022-23 OBC All-Sports Championship race.
Next week will see the girls OBC Softball Championship Tournament but this week features a ton of regular season action during the busy spring sports season. Here is a look around the county:
Fresh off their three-game sweep to win the Orange Belt Conference baseball championship last week (Game Story here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/harmony-ends-osceolas-three-consecutive-crowns-run-wins-obc-title-with-power-hitting-clutch-pitching/ ), things do not get any easier for the Harmony Longhorns as they have a big week of competition this week traveling to Merritt Island, who is 14-2 this season, before facing Osceola for a rematch on Friday night. Several county teams, including Osceola (10-6), Harmony (8-8), Celebration (9-4) and Tohopekaliga (9-4) are having winning seasons in 2023, as the teams have four more weeks of regular season action before the start of districts in May.
Games This Week
Apr. 3 Liberty at Celebration
Apr. 4 Harmony at Merritt Island
Monteverde at Osceola
Wekiva at Tohopekaliga
Brighton (NY) at Celebration
St. Cloud at Freedom
Apr. 6 Tohopekaliga at Poinciana
Gateway at Victory Christian
Apr. 7 Harmony at Osceola
Timber Creek at St. Cloud
Harmony scored three times in the closing minutes of the first half to cruise past Liberty, 33-6, and win the Orange Belt Conference flag football championship for a third consecutive time and five titles in last six contested years (no champion 2020 – Covid). Quarterback Martha Edwards threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more in the win. The Longhorns went to 9-2 on the season. In the third place OBC game, St. Cloud defeated Celebration, 26-13.
District flag football tournaments start April 17.
2023 Orange Belt Conference Championships
Harmony 40, Tohopekaliga 0
Liberty 13, Celebration 6
St. Cloud 26, Poinciana 0
Celebration 20, Osceola 0
Harmony 7, St. Cloud 0
Liberty 13, Celebration 6
3rd Place: St. Cloud 26, Celebration 13
Championship: Harmony 33, Liberty 6
The regular season comes to an end for the three Osceola public schools that sponsor lacrosse. In their first season of competition, the St. Cloud girls’ team (6-10) is riding a two-game winning streak; while the Bulldogs’ boys team is 2-13. Tohopekaliga boys’ are on a four-game losing streak and will try to finish on a positive note with games against St. Cloud and Colonial. Both Celebration (7-3) and Tohopekaliga (6-3) girls’ teams will finish with winning records.
This Week’s Games
Celebration at Windermere (Girls)
St. Cloud at Tohopekaliga (Boys)
Cypress Creek at St. Cloud (Girls)
Tohopekaliga at Bartow (Girls)
St. Cloud at Celebration (Girls)
St. Cloud at Celebration (Boys)
Colonial at Tohopekaliga (Boys)
Osceola hosted the 31st Roger Jones Classic last weekend at the Fortune Road Softball Complex. The Kowboys fell in the consolation bracket with an opening round loss to Florida Christian by a 7-1 score and then lost to powerful Lake Region, 12-1. The Lady Kowboys would rally to defeat both Canterbury (7-5 in eight innings) and Florida Christian (16-3) to clinch 13th place in the Gold Bracket.
Ray Whobrey’s St. Cloud team also played in the event. The Lady Bulldogs (9-6 on the season) also went 2-2 in the Gold Bracket. The opened with a 6-0 loss to Tampa Robinson, defeated Mantanza (6-2) and Lake Nona (4-0) in the playback round, before losing the 9th place game to Lake Region by a 3-1 score.
A total of 31 teams, featuring some of the top teams in the state, participated in the tournament that featured a 15-team Gold Bracket and a 16-team Blue Bracket. In the top Blue bracket, Somerset (14-1) defeated Melbourne (13-2) by a 14-11 score in the championship game; while Coral Reef went 4-0 in the tournament and defeated Rockledge to win the Gold Bracket.
Local teams will be in regular season action this week while they begin preparations for the Orange Belt Conference tournament next week.
Games This Week:
Apr. 3 Davenport at Poinciana
Liberty at Eau Gallie
Tohopekaliga at Celebration
Apr. 4 Eastern (Kentucky) at Osceola
Space Coast at St. Cloud
Harmony at First Academy
Gateway at Cocoa Beach
Apr. 5 Osceola at Davenport
Apr. 6 Eastern (KY) at St. Cloud
Poinciana at Tohopekaliga
Apr. 7 Lake Wales at St. Cloud
Harmony at Cornerstone Academy
BOYS’ WEIGHT LIFTING
In what was pretty much a repeat of the OBC Championships a week earlier, St. Cloud swept both the Traditional and Olympic disciplines to win a pair of District 13 boys’ weight lifting titles over the weekend. Michael Ziss (119 weight class) and Noah Carr (219) each won individual district titles in the Traditional (Bench + Clean-and-Jerk), as St. Cloud (62) edged Harmony (57) for the team title. Harmony had five individual champions in Dominic Trombelta (129), Brayden Shelton (139), Brayden Adams (183), Anthony Rodriguez (199), and Josh Moss (238), but could not match the Bulldogs depth to overtake them for the team title. Tohopekaliga’s Samir Murray (154) and Reggie Cuesta (169) joined Osceola’s Brandon Rosa (UNL) as the other individual district champions in the Traditional.
St. Cloud would dominate the Olympic event (Snatch plus Clean-and-Jerk), with Caleb Perez (183), Dylan Hayes (199), Bobby Madden (238) and Conner Howes (UNL) joining Ziss (119) and Carr (219) to give the Bulldogs six champions in the eight weight classes. Shelton (139) got a double win for Harmony and joined teammates Santos Torres (129) and Cooper Richards (154) as District Champions in the Olympic. Toho’s Cuesta (169) picked up the other district title. In the team race, St. Cloud tallied 74 points in the Olympic to easily outdistance 2nd place Harmony (53) and 3rd place Osceola (27) for the team crown.
The Bulldogs, Longhorns, and Osceola will all be well represented when St. Cloud High School hosts the FHSAA Class 3A, Region 4 championships on Saturday, Apr. 8 at 12 noon. The Bulldogs qualified all 20 of their lifters in the traditional and 19 of 20 in the Olympic. Harmony will send 17 to the Olympic regionals and 16 to the Traditional; while Osceola will 12 (Olympic) and nine (Traditional). All district champions qualified for regionals automatically; while the next 16 best district lift totals across all 10 weight classes also qualified.
Celebration’s Valeria Lopez defeated Gateway’s Danara Marcos (8-4) at #1 singles; and her teammates won the first four singles matches as the Storm defeated the Panthers, 5-2. The match was a showdown of undefeated Orange Belt Conference teams and put the Storm (11-2 overall, 6-0 OBC) in position to clinch their second consecutive OBC title and third in four years when they host Harmony (5-0, 5-0 OBC) on Wednesday (2/4). In order to keep their OBC title hopes alive, the Longhorns would have to beat Gateway (11-2 overall, 5-1 OBC) on Tuesday.
With 7-0 sweeps over Osceola and Toho last week, the Celebration boys’ tennis team (7-7 on season) won its fifth straight Orange Belt Conference title with a perfect 7-0 round robin record. The Storm, led by sophomore Julian Cuevas, was dominant in-county – going 48-1 in individual sets as they beat six opponents by 7-0 scores. Only Poinciana (a 6-1 win) took a set off the Storm in OBC play this year.
Track standouts from Osceola, St. Cloud, Tohopekaliga, Harmony, and Celebration joined athletes from more than 160 high schools at the prestigious Florida Relays this past Friday and Saturday on the UF campus.
Harmony high jumper Drea Thompson, a favorite to win a state championship in Class 4A this year, was the top finisher of local athletes, taking second with a leap of 1.68 meters (5’-5 1/8”). Teammate Lailana Decker finished in 25th place in the 3200-meter run. St. Cloud girls’ high jumper Sanaa Charles placed 9th in the event (1.84 meters).
Tohopekaliga pole vaulters Peter De Almeda (3.95 meters) and Angel Mendoza (3.80) registered top 20 finishes in that event, placing 13th and 16th respectively. Toho distance specialist Johan Comacho placed 6th in the 3200-meter run (9:32.75).
St. Cloud had two top 20 finishes in boys’ jumping events, as Jahleek Lawrence took 13th in the high jump (1.84 meters) and Yadiel Rivera took 12th in the triple jump (12.98).
Osceola’s David Buggs took 17th in the discus throw (40.8 meters); while Jordan Styles (15.40) was 21st in the 110-meter hurdles. Speedster Shannon Levy (12.36) had a 23rd place finish in the 100-meters.