While they didn’t come away with a state championship, Osceola’s wrestling team had its best showing yet in the FHSAA Duals state tournament.
The Kowboys went 2-1 against some of the best wrestling teams the state has to offer in Class 3A, including Miami South Dade, who defended its 3A state duals title Saturday with a 57-13 win over OHS.
But, let OHS’ matches Friday night and earlier Saturday define what it accomplished in the tournament. The Kowboys notched a come-from-behind 33-28 win over Palm Harbor University, its first quarterfinal win in three years.
Then in Saturday’s semifinal, Osceola spotted Wellington a 12-0 lead, then ran off six straight match wins to take the lead and held on for a 34-33 win and the right to take on South Dade.
Osceola Coach Jim Bird has hosted the tournament at OHS each of its three years.
Friday, Palm Harbor took a lead midway through the quarterfinal. George Duncan (pin at 126 pounds), Joseph Fernandez (8-3 decision at 132) and Jaekus Hines (50-second pin at 138) put Osceola in the lead, but Palm Harbor took the lead back in the middle weights.
But the Kowboys, kickstarted by two-time individual state tournament qualifier Nollin Eaddy’s 8-0 decision at 182 pounds, delivered five wins to finish off its first state tournament win. Joel Campbell (13-9 decision at 195) and Marvin Caballero (pin at 220) tied the match at 28, then the big guy (Dylan Ruiz at 285) and the little guy (freshman Cooper Haase at 106) wrestled claimed high-pressure wins on points to make Saturday busy as competitors for the first time.
“There were some up and downs in the match … until we won the last five matches to to pull out the win,” Bird said “Great wins by Cooper, Georgie, Joseph, Jaekus, Nollin, Joel, Marvin and Dylan when we needed them. It took something special.”
The Kowboys trailed early again against Wellington before going on another tear: Josean Sanchez (9-2 at 170) and LaQuavion Pinellas (3-0 at 182) got their first wins of the weekend, then Eaddy (11-1 major decision at 195), Caballero (pin at 220), Ruiz (6-0 at 285) and Haase (10-3 at 106) put OHS in control with a 22-12 lead. Duncan and Hines got pins to set up Adriel Martinez, who was asked to just not get pinned to deliver the victory, and did just that.
South Dade, who dominated on Friday (57-7 over Cypress Bay) and in Saturday’s semifinal (34-22 over Fleming Island), proved to be a tough out. Eady got a pin at 182, Haase won a 2-1 match and Hines won in 12-0 fashion for Osceola’s only points.
Tampa Jesuit (Class 2A) and Lake Highland Prep (1A) were the other state champs crowned Saturday.