By:  J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola

As expected, Harmony and Osceola dominated their respective district wrestling tournaments on Saturday and each will send large contingents to next week’s regionals – the final stop before the FHSAA State Championships at Silver Spurs Arena, Feb. 29-Mar. 2.

Long a state power, the Kowboys served notice they would be seeking another Top 5 finish at states by dominating the field at the Class 3A, District 5 Tournament.  Osceola (274 points), easily outdistanced Lakeland’s George Jenkins (190.5) for the team title.

Osceola will move 13 through to regionals; including 10 district champions in Adaias Ortiz (113), Taylyn Fisk (120), Isfandier Sharipov (132), Ehab Shalaby (138), Jayson Ortiz (140), Anderson Heap (150), Nathaniel Cabrera (157), Deacon DeLong (160), Gunner Holland (175) and Jaquille Knox (285).   

With top four finishes, Maddox Spencer (4th-106), Diaaeldin Elghonemy (3rd-126), and Bryan Gari (3rd-190) also advanced for Osceola.   

“Our guys did an awesome job today, with 10 champions and sending 13 through to regionals, we really matched our expectations today.  We may not always win every match, but our guys will never back down from a challenge,” Osceola coach Rick Tribit said.

Osceola will host the Region 2 Championship next Friday and Saturday (Feb. 23-24).  

Harmony was equally impressive in winning the Class 3A, District 9 title with 300.5 points.  Freedom (190) was second and Tohpekaliga was fifth (130.5).  

The Longhorns join Osceola in sending 13, including nine district champions, to their Region 3 Championship at Seminole Ridge High.  The Longhorns saw Nathan Lytle (106), Tristan Horn (113), Max Butler (120), Carlos Rodriguez (132), Jeremiah Gomez (150), Shawn McCallister (158), John Fernandez (175), Seth Scutero (190) and Case Roberts (215) all win district championships; while Gabriel Nascimento (2nd-126), Carson Estrada (2nd-138), Christian Rodriguez (3rd-144) and Aiden Maldonaldo (4th-285) also move on for the ‘Horns.

“I saw a lot of good things today,” Harmony coach Vic Lorenzano said.  “After a long season with injuries, it felt like we had almost our full team back today and we are definitely peaking at the right time.”

Several other county schools will be sending competitors to the 3A regionals.  

Wrestling in the same regional as Harmony, Tohopekaliga will seven through to regionals – including a district champion in Nate Barrett (138).  He will be joined by teammates Angel Mundo (4th-113), Daniel Furtado (4th-132), Taylen Haynes (2nd-144), Talon Hayes (2nd-150), Max Barrett (2nd-165), and Valentino Benavides (4th-190).

Competitors from Celebration and Poinciana will join Osceola wrestlers at the Region 2 Championships.  They include Poinciana’s Alfred Saurez (3rd-106) and Noah Otero (2nd-165); while the Storm will send district champion Jorge Feliz (126), as well as Sammy Nouaydi (3rd-132), Zach DeCesare (4th-138) and Austin Werner (2nd-144).

Meanwhile Gateway participated in the Class 2A, District 7 championship hosted by St. Cloud on Thursday. As expected, defending state champion Lake Gibson dominated that event – winning the team championship with 301 points.   The big news was a solid performance by the host Bulldogs, who tied Auburndale for second place with 145 points.  Gateway was fourth in the eight-team event with 134 points.

Led by District champion Carter Rivera (106-lb. class), St. Cloud will send seven wrestlers to next week’s regional championships at Brandon High School, Feb. 23-24. In addition to Rivera, St. Cloud put Nicholes Restrepo (150) in the finals, where he finished second behind Lake Gibson’s LeAndre Campbell by fall.  

Nathaniel Huron (3rd-112), Chris Karandes (3rd-138), Blake Carter (4th-144), Terrance Griffin (4th-157), and Earin Mesa (3rd-215) also advanced for the Bulldogs. “For one of the few times this season we were able to enter a full team with a wrestler at every weight class,” St. Cloud coach Mike Short said.  “We wrestled really well in getting to second place but more importantly we are moving seven individuals on to regionals.”

Gateway is also sending seven wrestlers through.  They got three second place finishes from Ariel Molina (138), Ruben Ocasio (144) and Xavier LaPaz (285); in addition to third place finishes from Jason Perez (106), Worrell Logan (113), John Dominique (120) and Meison Broche (165).

There was more competition in the area over the weekend, as Osceola hosted athletes from more than 50 schools in the FHSAA Region 2 Girls Championship.  In all, 10 girls from Osceola County schools advanced to the state tournament slated for Silver Spurs Arena, Feb. 29-Mar. 2.

Two of those wrestlers will go to states as regional champions as Osceola’s Anoyah Whayne won the 100-lb. class and Liberty’s Delialah Betances won the 120-lb. class.  Other county qualifiers included Celebration’s Alea Morales (4th-100); Osceola’s Paola Ramirez (2nd-115), Erica Hernandez (4th-140), and Lily Tucker (3rd-170); and Harmony’s Kiley Vinson (4th-135) and Emari Brown (2nd-190).

Team-wise Hernando won the regional team championship with 199 points; besting Freedom (156) and Apopka (97).  Osceola (94) was fourth, Harmony (53) was eighth and Poinciana (26) finished with a 20th place finish.