By:  J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola

Weight lifters from St. Cloud and Harmony will take center stage on Friday, as they attempt to qualify for the 3A FHSAA State Championships at St. Cloud’s Gym.  Two-time state champion Mike Ziss (St. Cloud) will be among the favorites to advance to the state meet in both the Traditional (Bench Press plus Clean-and-Jerk) and Olympic (Clean-and-Jerk plus Snatch) disciplines.  Both the Bulldogs and Longhorns qualified most of their respective teams to the regionals after great performances last week at districts (see below).

In softball, some of the top teams and talent in the state will converge in Kissimmee beginning Thursday for the 32nd Annual Roger Jones Kissimmee Klassic at the Fortune Road Softball Complex.  Defending 6A state champion Bartow (16-0 and the number ranked overall team in the state) will be the favorite to win the Blue Bracket, which consists of five of the top 12 teams in the state.

Here is a look at sports around Osceola County for this week:

Flag Football

The 2024 regular season wraps up this week as teams begin preparations for District Tournaments that start April 9.  Harmony (10-2) and St. Cloud (9-3) are currently battling for the number one seed in Class 2A, District 18, with the final seeding to be determined by MaxPrep State Rankings.  Lake Nona (3-3), Tohopekaliga (0-12) and Cypress Creek (5-7) are in the same district.  The Longhorns, who won the OBC championship earlier this season, will face a stern test next week as they close out their regular season against Apopka (7-2) on April 2 and West Orange the following day.  St. Cloud concluded its regular season this past week with games against Lake Nona and Windermere.  Celebration (8-1) and Osceola (5-5) are in Class 2A, District 17 with Poinciana (4-5), Cypress Creek and Freedom.  The Storm is currently battling Freedom for the top seed in that district.  Gateway (7-2) will be searching for a high seed in Class 1A, District 13 with Liberty (3-5), Auburndale, Davenport Ridge, Lake Region and Davenport High.

Boy’s Weightlifting

Both St. Cloud and Harmony were able to advance the majority of their lifters to this week’s regional competition following strong showings at last Friday’s district meet.  As expected, St. Cloud easily picked up another district championship in the Olympic discipline (Snatch plus Clean-and Jerk), outdistancing second place Harmony (94-83).  The Traditional discipline was a lot closer, as the Bulldogs slipped by the Longhorns by a single point (83-82) to also win that district title.  Individually, six lifters earned double gold by winning both the Traditional and Olympic competitions and automatically advance to regionals in both events.  Those lifters included Mike Ziss (119 weight class), Jon Morales (154), and Conner Howes (UNL) from St. Cloud; Jason Isaphanich (139), and brothers Louis (199) and Anthony (219) Rodriguez from Harmony.  Julian Guzman (169) from Osceola also doubled.  Other lifters advancing automatically were Traditional winners Dominic Trobetta (Harmony, 129), Jason Perez (St. Cloud, 183) and Keniel Martin (Tohopekaliga, 239).  Gold medalists automatically advancing to regionals in the Olympic discipline include Santos Torres (Harmony, 129), Josh Morillo (St. Cloud, 183), and Landon Millman (St. Cloud, 239).  

 “Obviously we are pleased to add two more district team titles to our resume,” St. Cloud coach Cory Aun said.  “But unlike last week’s OBC meet, district competition was all about advancing as many lifters as possible to regional competition.  Although we are still waiting on other district results from our region, I feel pretty good that our top two guys in each weight class will be moving forward to regionals in both disciplines.”  The champion from each of the four districts automatically advance to regionals; while the next 12 finishers – regardless of district – advance as at-large representatives.

“Because the main objective was to advance our individual goals for each lifter were different,” Aun added.  “For example, we knew guys like Mike Ziss, Jon Morales and Connor Howes could take it a little easier and still advance.  Still Conner was feeling it yesterday and hit personal bests in both the snatch (260) and clean-and-jerk (345), which are also county records.  Overall it was a great team effort and we are looking forward to hosting regionals next week.”


County bragging rights will be on the line next week when the Orange Belt Conference Tournament is held, April 8-12.  Harmony is the defending champion, but based on results this year any one of four or five teams could be in contention.  Seeding will be announced after MaxPreps releases state rankings on Monday.

Meanwhile, several teams are scheduled to play some intriguing games this week.  Osceola (6-7) will face some of the top teams from both Orange and Lake counties when they travel to West Orange (13-3) on Tuesday and host Lake Minneola (9-4) on Thursday.  St. Cloud (8-5) will look to even its home-and-home regular season record with arch-rival Harmony (7-8), when they face them on the road Friday night.  The Bulldogs lost to the Longhorns at home (2/23), but have been playing much better of late—winning four of their last five.   Celebration has been playing somewhat of a “national schedule” the past couple of weeks, hosting out-of-state schools on spring break.  That trend continues this week as the Storm will play Orange County’s Freedom on Monday, before hosting a double header against Fenwick (Illinois) and Colt’s Neck (NJ) on Tuesday before playing Immaculata (NJ) on Thursday.

In our featured game from last week, St. Cloud’s Sean Gallagher pitched six innings of four-hit ball and freshman Sammy Echeverry slammed a massive three-run home to lead St. Cloud past rival Osceola, 4-3 (Read about that game here: 

In other baseball notes, a pair of seniors —  Iziah Santiago and Clayton Williams — were lead Harmony in hitting at .333.  After splitting last week’s games with Poinciana (W, 9-6) and Master’s Academy (L, 5-0), Tohopekaliga found itself at 8-6 on the year. Led by Hudson Moberly’s .407 batting average (11 for 27), the Tigers were hitting .283 as a team.  Celebration (5-4) entered the week with three starters hitting better than .400, including Alejandro Moreno (.500), Alejandro Sanchez (.480) and David Sevilla (.425).  Gateway (4-8) has already doubled their win total from a year ago as first-year coach Edgardo Vazqueztell is in the process of turning that program around.   Gabriel Perez-Guillen was hitting .407 for the Panthers.  Playing young teams, both Poinciana (1-6) and Liberty (0-10) were off to slow starts.


The 32nd Annual Roger Jones Kissimmee Klassic begins on Thursday at Fortune Road Softball Complex.  Hosted by Osceola, the 32-team, two bracket tournament features some of the top high school softball teams and talent in the state – including five of the top 12 ranked overall teams in the state.  (Read about tournament here: .  After a 2-5 start, Osceola goes into the tournament on a four-game winning streak, having out-scored its opponents 59-3 in that stretch. A pair of freshman, Faith Ferrer (.615) and Tenley Dawson (.500) were leading Miranda Watford’s young team (6 freshmen starters) in hitting.  St. Cloud (6-8) will also participate in the Roger Jones Kissimmee Klassic.  The Bulldogs have played an extremely difficult schedule to date, dropping games to Winter Park (7-1) and defending 5-A champion Lake Wales (1-0) last week. Sophomore Addison Felblinger is the team’s leading hitter (.444) and pitcher (4-5, 3.95 era, 74Ks).

In other county softball notes, Harmony (5-5) has games scheduled this week with Melbourne (4/2) and Bishop Moore (4/3).   The Longhorns’ sophomore Emerson Aslan continues to hit for both average (.536) and power (5 home runs, 15 RBI).  Poinciana (7-5) continues to pile up runs, averaging more than 10 per game, but have also struggled on the mound (5.16 era) and in the field (.875 fielding percentage).  Five Eagle players were hitting better than .400, including Alondra Lozado (.526).  Senior Angelica Castro has been a major factor in Tohopekaliga’s 8-3 start, leading the Tigers in batting average (.500), on-base percentage (.606), runs scored (15) and extra base hits (5).  Tohopekaliga has a busy week in front of them with three games, facing Celebration (4/1), Edgewater (4/2) and Liberty (4/4).


The regular season has two weeks remaining before the start of district play on April 15.  Last week Celebration put on another dominating performance to win both the boys and girls Orange Belt Conference Championships (read about that here: The Storm have a pair of matches against George Jenkins (4/2), Gateway (4/4).

Boys Volleyball

St. Cloud (9-1) lost its first match of the season against Apopka (2-0) but rallied back to beat Gateway and Boone.  Ette Singleton’s team remains undefeated against county competition (3-0) and will face Lake Nona (4/2) and Forest Lake Academy (4/4) this week.  Senior Will Sutphen (6-5, 175-lbs.) continues to lead Bulldog attack with 105 kills and a .328 hitting percentage. Traditional state power Celebration was 4-2 after a tough 3-0 loss to Horizon (9-2) last week.  Senior Noah Fermin was leading the Storm with a .360 hitting percentage.  


In girls’ lacrosse, the two of the three county schools that sponsor the sport squared off last week with Tohopekaliga (5-6) defeating St. Cloud (9-2) by a 9-6 score.  Senior Lauren Schira led the way to the victory with four goals and an assist.  Both teams play three times this week, with the Lady Tigers playing Colonial (4/1), Winter Haven (4/2) and Lake Nona (4/3) and the Lady Bulldogs squaring off against Horizon (4/1), Cypress Creek (4/3) and Lake Nona (4/4).  In boys’ action, Tohopekaliga (7-4) edged St. Cloud (6-8) by a 7-6 score last week.  Nathan Ilemsky (13 goals) and Baldwin Batista (12 goals) lead the Tigers in scoring this season; while Jackson McCoy (22 goals) is the top point getter for the Bulldogs.  Celebration boys (0-10) will have three chances for their first win this week as they take on East Ridge (4/1), Windermere Prep (4/3) and Horizon (4/5).  Trent Hutchinson (17 goals) is the leading scorer for the Storm.  Junior Abigael Locher had 54 of Celebration’s (2-7) 71 goals scored this season on the girls’ side.


Six of the eight county schools participated in the non-team scored Mike Clemens Track Classic at Osceola High School on Mar.  27.  Some highlights on the boys side included Harmony’s Noah Tribe doubling with wins in the 100 and long jump; Celebration’s Gavin Konopka sweeping the shot discuss, Gateway winning both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays and St. Cloud’s Jahleek Lawrence remaining undefeated among regional opposition in the high jump.  In the girls’ meet, Osceola’s Zanaya Bright won the 100 and Mia Gonzalez took the 800; Harmony’s Lailana Decker won the 1600 and ran a leg on the winning 4 x 800 relay team; Gateway’s Aniyah Radcliff doubled in the 100 hurdles and long jump and Tohopekaliga’s Sanaa Charles took the high jump.