Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in and around Osceola County sports…
In Steve Mason’s return as head coach, Osceola started its hoop season with a 2-0 record, taking narrow wins over Colonial (59-53) and West Orange (72-63). Behind Mitchell Starks’ 13.3 points per game, Celebration got off to a 2-0 start before being manhandled last Friday, 60-23, by Gateway (2-1). Poinciana (1-1) lost an 80-35 decision to state power Oak Ridge on Friday. St. Cloud opened the season with losses to Bartow and Liberty. Josh Camejo was averaging 13 points a game in the early going for Tohopekaliga (2-2). Juniors Miguel Tirado (15.8 ppg) and Rafael Balines (12.0 ppg) are averaging double figures for Harmony (3-2). Under first-year head coach Lawrence Kelly, the Liberty Chargers started the season 2-1.
The class of the county for Osceola County public schools is Gateway (5-1), whose only loss came last weekend to state-power Cocoa. The Panthers average margin of victory in their five wins has been 42.8 points. Gateway will face a still challenge on Tuesday when they host Central Florida Christian Academy (4-0) at 6 p.m. Junior Kennedi Johnson hit a reverse layup at the buzzer, as St. Cloud went to 3-2 on the season with a 46-44 win over Okeechobee. Senior Samara Calso is averaging 12.5 points per game as Poinciana is off to a 4-1 start this season.
Osceola High sent just three wrestlers to the prestigious Border Wars IX Tournament in the Florida panhandle this past weekend and came away with three champions. The tournament featured 21 teams from Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.
The three Osceola wrestlers (Gunner Holland, Cooper Haase, and Anderson Heap) all went undefeated in pool play on Friday to gain high seeds in Saturday’s championship round. Heap claimed the first title for Osceola, going 8-0 in the tournament and defeating Chiles (Tallahassee) High’s Garrett Marschka by an 8-0 score in the126-lb. final. Haase racked up a 7-0 record in the tournament and recorded a 24-8 technical fall over Gulf Breeze’s Colson Elliot in the 132-lb. final; while Holland went 9-0 in the tournament, beating Mosely’s Nick Hejke, 13-2, in the 152-lb. final.
Overall, the Kowboys finished in 12th place as a team with 107.5 points; while all 11 teams in front of them had at between 9 and 19 wrestlers competing in the event. More than 20 teams, including some of the top teams in Florida, will take part in the Danny Byron Memorial Tournament this weekend at Osceola High School.
South Dade, Miami Southwest, and Lake Gibson will join Osceola as top Florida teams in the tournament, while Celebration, Poinciana and Gateway will also participate.
Harmony had a big day at the Longhorn Duals, going 5-0. Harmony defeated Lake Nona (60-5), Colonial (72-6), George Jenkins (54-24), St. Cloud (65-6) and Flagler (40-31) in the duals. For Harmony, Maverick Hauser when undefeated at 160 with a 5-0 record; as did Nelson Toro at 220. John McNichols as 4-0 at 138.
Osceola senior Noah Maniace signed an athletic scholarship to swim at West Virginia University Institute of Technology, a NAIA school located in Beckley, WV. He becomes the first male swimmer from Osceola High School to earn an athletic grant in aid in the sport since 1993.
The opportunity to continue to swim on the collegiate level is really exciting,” Maniace said. “Some other schools had contacted me but West Virginia Tech was the first one to commit to me. The campus looked amazing and I just believe it is going to be the right place for me.”
Maniace was the Orange Belt Conference Champion at 500-meters this year but will specialize in the sprints and breast stroke in college.
Celebration (4-0-2) is off to a great start this season, registering five shutouts in their first six games and out-scoring their opposition by a 28-1. Ten different players have scored goals for the Storm this year, including four each by Oscar Vazquez, Mohammad Raky and Edgar Marquez. Celebration has two road games on tap this week, playing at St. Cloud on Wednesday and at Osceola on Thursday.
Tohopekaliga was the only other county public school with a winning record after Week Two, checking with at 3-1-2; while Harmony was 2-3-1 but had played an extremely difficult schedule – with the three losses coming to Lake Howell, Heritage, and Space Coast, teams that have a combined 13-1-2 record this season.
Harmony was off to a solid start with a 3-1-1 record and has matches this week against Lake Howell and Liberty. Gateway (2-1-0) was the only other team with a winning record in the county; while Poinciana was 2-2-0.