By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
Although the school year is rapidly winding down, a lot of moving parts remain for the athletic programs in Osceola’s eight public high schools. Here is a rundown of what is happening this week in county high school sports:
Coming off a dominating three-set sweep of Dr. Phillips (25-18, 25-17, 25-20), Celebration returns to action Tuesday night when they host Winter Garden’s Horizon Hawks in an FHSAA Regional Final on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the State Championship Tournament this weekend at Polk State College in Winter Haven. The Storm (20-9 this season) last advanced to the state tournament in 2019, when they defeated Apopka for the Regional Championship before bowing out to Archbishop McCarthy in 5-set quarterfinals – finishing their season with a 24-3 record. “On paper, we should be favored on Tuesday, but you never know in the playoffs,” Celebration coach Pedro Davila noted. “The most important thing will be to come out with intensity and establish our rhythm early.” You can read about Celebration’s big win against Dr. Phillips here (https://www.positivelyosceola.com/celebration-storm-one-win-away-from-state-tournament-in-boys-volleyball )
SIGNING DAY AT OSCEOLA
Osceola High School will hold a signing ceremony on Monday afternoon. Five athletes, including Quanaya Jenkins (Girls Track/Field – Florida Memorial), Nyla Rocke (Girls Wrestling – North Iowa Area Community College), Davian Rivera (Wrestling – North Iowa Area Community College), Keira Suro (Girls Wrestling – Friends University), and Daniela Tabora Contreras (Girls Wrestling- Friends University) will sign their scholarship papers at the event. “We’ve had a great year this year and singing days like this one are the big payoff for the student-athletes and their families,” Osceola AD Rick Tribit said. “Monday’s signing brings to 30 the number of 2022-23 OHS Student-athletes who will get the opportunity to chase their dreams at the next level and is a true testament to the hard work that our teachers, coaches, and counselors have put in coaching and mentoring them.”
Osceola’s 6-3 come-from-behind over Wellington last Thursday advanced the Kowboys to a Class 7A, Region 3 Semifinal contest; where they met #1 regional seed Park Vista (Lake Worth) on Saturday. Unfortunately, Osceola saw its season come to an end as William Bavaro knocked in a pair of runs and senior Michael Malone pitched a complete-game, three-hitter as Park Vista (22-3-1) defeated the Kowboys (16-10) by a 3-1 score. Osceola would break on top with an unearned run in the third, but Kowboys starting pitcher Carlos Negron would be touched up for three runs in the bottom of the third as the Cobras took the lead for good. Park Vista ace, Malone (7-0) struck out seven and walked just one in the game. Junior Nick Palmi and senior Michelangelo Cruz kept Osceola in the game by pitching three innings of shutout ball in relief. Senior Jansel Nieves had a hit and scored the lone run for Osceola, which finishes the season with a 16-10 record and a District crown.
Two Osceola County teams advanced to regional competition but both teams were bounced out in the quarterfinal round last week. Harmony lost a 12-4 decision at home to a talented Jupiter squad (read game story here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/harmonys-softball-season-as-district-10-champion-ends-in-regional-quarterfinals-loss-to-jupiter/ ) ; while St. Cloud traveled to Centennial, where their season ended with a tough 2-0 loss. The Lady Bulldogs finished the year with a 15-11 mark.
Gateway’s Amela Johnson, who regional titles in both the 200 and 400 meter runs will go for All-State honors when she participates in the FHSAA Class 3A State Championships on Friday at Hodges Stadium on the campus of North Florida University. Johnson is currently ranked 12th in the state in the 400, which is her best event and will need to finish in the top eight to earn All-State recognition.
On Saturday, a bevy of county athletes –including regional champions Drea Thompson (Harmony – high jump), Shannon Levy (Osceola – 100 meters) and Johan Comacho (Tohopekaliga – 3200 meter run) — will compete in the FHSAA Class 4A meet, also slated for Hodges Field. Thompson is currently ranked number one (4A) in the state in the high jump with a top performance of 5’-7 ¼”. St. Cloud freshman Sanaa Charles is ranked number 10 in the same event (5’-3 ¾”). On the boys’ side, St. Cloud’s Jahleek Lawrence is also ranked in the top 10 in the state in the high jump (8th – 6’-5 ½”). In all, more than 30 athletes from the county have qualified for the state track championships in either individual or relay events. (Read Regional Results Here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/five-from-osceola-county-take-regional-track-championships/ )
Spring football practices wind up this week for five county schools with annual spring football games. Action kicks off on Wednesday night with Osceola playing at Edgewater. Thursday, Celebration hosts George Jenkins and Friday’s games find Poinciana at Gateway and St. Cloud at Freedom. All contests are slated for 7 p.m. (Read about spring football here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/as-spring-football-practices-kickoff-osceola-reloads-others-rebuild-for-fall/ ).
The Annual Orange Belt Conference Athletic Award Program, honoring the brightest and best of high school athletics in the county, is scheduled for Heritage Park this week. Among the highlights of the program will be the naming of the Male and Female Athletes of the Year and the Athletic Achievement Award – which goes to the school whose athletes have compiled the highest cumulative grade point average for the year. Tohopekaliga baseball coach Nikko Martell will accept the prestigious “Mike Fields Distinguished Leadership Award” and Harmony High School used an extremely strong spring – winning team titles in boys track, girls track, flag football, and baseball to win their third consecutive All-Sports Team Champions Award and their 11th overall. Positively Osceola will have a complete rundown of OBC Awards Banquet on Thursday.