By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
It was an incredibly busy week of action in high school sports that saw OBC Champions crowned in three sports. But the big news came in weightlifting and girls’ lacrosse, where St. Cloud saw a lifter win a pair of state championships and Celebration dominated the competition to win a district title.
St. Cloud sophomore Mikey Ziss had a huge weekend, winning state championships in the 119-lb. weight class in both the Traditional (Bench Press and Clean-and-Jerk) and Olympic (Clean-and-Jerk and Snatch) disciplines during the FHSAA Class 3A State Weightlifting Championships at the Robert Palmer Center in Lakeland on Saturday.
Ziss lifted a combined 405 pounds in the clean-and-jerk and bench press to win the Traditional by five pounds over Niceville’s Aiden-Ray Simpson. He would complete the sweep in the Olympic discipline when he lifted 165 in the snatch and 215 in the clean and jerk to tally 380 pounds – to best East River’s Austin Harmon by 25 pounds (350).
“Mikey was outstanding at the state meet and he’s only a sophomore,” Coach Cory Aun said. “He will have a chance to go down as one of the best in state history. He could finish with six state titles which would be a school record.”
St. Cloud, which also got All-State performances in the Olympic from Kaleb Perez (5th place at 183-lb. class), a second from Dylan Hayes at 199, and Noah Carr’s third in the 219-lb. class gave the Bulldogs 18 team points and a third place finish.
Hayes broke the state record in the snatch by 30 pounds with a lift of 260. Carr, with a fourth place finish in the Traditional, joined Ziss as county athletes to earn double All-State honors. Several other lifters from the county earned All-State honors at the meet. Tohopekaliga’s Samir Murray finished second in the Traditional at 154-lb. class with a lift total of 565-lbs and Harmony’s Anthony Rodriguez (199-lb. class) finished fourth with a 625-lb. total.
As expected, the Celebration Storm raced through the Class 2A, District 7 Tournament last week to claim the title. Celebration received a first round bye as a top seed and then defeated Winter Haven in the semifinals (28-1) and blitzed Lakeland in Friday’s final by a 23-7 score.
As has been the case all season, the Storm were led by a pair of sophomores in Abigael Locher and Ayla Moffitt. Locher scored 17 goals in the two games, including 11 against Winter Haven; Moffitt had seven goals in the semifinals and a team-leading eight in the championship.
The Storm will host District 8 runner-up Viera (11-4) on Tuesday night. Viera defeated Celebration, 13-6, in a regular season game back on Feb. 20.
The lacrosse season came to an end for the other county teams involved in district action. The Celebration boys defeated Freedom (19-1) in a district quarterfinal before falling to Dr. Phillips in the 2A, District 7 semifinals by a 10-4 score. In Class 2A, District 7 both the Tohopekaliga girls’ (17-7 to Melbourne) and boys’ (13-1 Olympia) lost in quarterfinal action.
Harmony is the number one overall seed and host for the Class 2A, District 9 Flag Football Tournament that will be held this week. As top seed, the Longhorns will play the winner of Monday’s play-in game between #8 Tohopekaliga and #9 Lake Nona. The winner of that game will play at the winner of Monday’s Poinciana (7-3) vs. Freedom in a semi-final game on Tuesday. In other quarterfinal action second seeded St. Cloud (10-3) will play Cypress Creek and Horizon will play Osceola (7-8). Semifinals are slated for 5:30 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday; with the championship game on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Celebration (5-7) will face Dr. Phillips in a District 5 quarterfinal game on Tuesday. The winner gets top-seeded Apopka (11-3) on Wednesday. Celebration is the host school for the semifinals and championship.
Liberty (9-6) is the second seed for the Class 1A, District 10 tournament and will host Deltona at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals; while #6 seed Gateway (6-8) will travel to Pine Ridge. If Liberty wins they will host the semifinal game on Wednesday.
With two weeks left in the regular season, teams will continue to jockey for district playoff seeding.
Harmony had a huge week, going 3-0 in beating Eau Gallie (8-3), Tohopekaliga (10-5) and St. Cloud (15-3). The Longhorns went to 12-9 on the week and got some good news as leading hitter Cade Walter returned to the lineup. Walter had three RBI in the St. Cloud win. Sam Castillo continues to have a big year for the Longhorns, he slammed a home run against Eau Gallie and is hitting .375 on the season.
Osceola found itself at 11-9 after splitting with Liberty (5-4 win) and Palm Harbor (4-1 loss). The Kowboys are led in hitting by Jason Ramos (.390) and Nick Palmi (.382). Justin Diaz was leading Tohopekaliga in hitting (.472) and extra-base hits (8) and Deric Cruz Jr. had three triples and a team-leading 10 RBI for the Tigers, who found themselves with a 12-5 record.
Alejandro Hernandez was leading Celebration in batting average (.516), hits (32), RBI (10) and extra base hits (9), as the Storm were 11-6 on the season. Kenai Crespo was hitting .442 for Liberty (6-6). Aiden Peguero was hitting .417 for St. Cloud (6-10)
Third seeded Osceola upended top-seed St. Cloud on the road to win the 2023 Orange Belt Conference Championship. (Read Story here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/osceola-kowboys-capture-softball-championship-knock-off-top-seeded-st-cloud/ .
As with baseball, teams will be jockeying for playoff position as the regular season winds down.
Harmony used its superior depth to win both the boys and girls team titles in track and field last Wednesday at St. Cloud. (Read Story here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/harmony-longhorn-seniors-go-out-as-orange-belt-conference-track-champions/
Both the Storm and Tohopekaliga will play important games this week as the regular season winds down. The Storm will host Lake Brantley on Wednesday before traveling to Miami to meet state powers SW Miami on Friday and Miami High on Saturday. Tohopekaliga faces big challenges with home games against state ranked Freedom and Lake Nona. Celebration knocked off Tohopekaliga in straight sets to win their second consecutive OBC title last week. (Read Story Here: https://www.positivelyosceola.com/celebration-storm-captures-obc-boys-volleyball-championship-2-in-a-row-fourth-in-five-years/
THIS WEEKS ACTION
Monday (April 17)
Tohopekaliga vs. Lake Nona 4:45 p.m., Flag Football at Harmony (2A, District 9 Play in Game)
Poinciana vs. Freedom 5:45 p.m., Flag Football at Harmony (2A, District 9 Quarters)
St. Cloud vs. Cypress Creek, 5:30 p.m., Flag Football at Lake Nona (2A, District 9 Quarters)
Horizon vs. Osceola, 6:45 p.m., Flag Football at Lake Nona 2A, (District 9 Quarters)
Harmony vs. Lake Nona/Tohopekaliga Winner, Flag Football 7 p.m. (2A, District 9 Quarters)
St. Cloud at Celebration, 6:45 p.m., Baseball
Celebration at Poinciana, 6 p.m., Softball
Tuesday (Apr. 18)
Viera at Celebration, 7 p.m., Girls Lacrosse Regional Quarterfinal
Poinciana/Freedom (winner) at Harmony, 5:45 p.m., Flag Football (2A,District 9 Semis)
St. Cloud/Cypress (winner) vs. Horizon/Osceola (winner). 6:45 p.m.. Flag (2A, District 9 Semis)
Celebration vs. Dr. Phillips. 6 p.m., Flag Football (2A, District 5 Quarters)
Deltona at Liberty, 7 p.m., Flag Football (1A, District 10 Quarters)
Gateway at Pine Ridge, 7 p.m., Flag Football (1A, District 10 Quarters)
Osceola at Lake Nona, 7 p.m., Baseball
Cornerstone at Tohopekaliga, 7 p.m., Baseball
Victory Christian at Liberty,6 p.m., Baseball
Gateway at Heritage, 6 p.m. Softball
Rockledge at Harmony, 6 p.m., Softball
Liberty at Tohopekaliga, 6 p.m., Softball
Poinciana at Gateway, 5 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Windermere at St. Cloud, 6 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Harmony at Celebration, 7 p.m. Boys Volleyball
Freedom at Tohopekaliga, 7 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Wednesday (Apr. 19)
Harmony at Eau Gallie, 6 p.m., Baseball
Celebration at Davenport Ridge, 6 p.m., Baseball
Poinciana at St. Cloud, 7 p.m., Baseball
East River at St. Cloud, 7:30 p.m. , Softball
Osceola at Lyman, 6 p.m., Softball
Gateway at Tohopekaliga, 6 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Thursday (Apr. 20)
Class 2A, District 9 Championship Game, Flag Football, at Harmony 6 p.m.
Viera at Harmony, 6 p.m., Baseball
Lake Minneola at Osceola, 6 p.m., Baseball
Tohopekaliga at South Lake, 6 p.m., Baseball
Liberty at Discovery, 6 p.m., Baseball
Cypress Creek at Poinciana, 5 p.m., Softball
Bishop Moore at Harmony, 6 p.m., Softball
Liberty at Celebration, 5 p.m., Softball
Freedom at Tohopekaliga, 6 p.m., Softball
Lake Brantley at Celebration, 7 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Lake Nona at Tohopekaliga, 6 p.m., Boys Volleyball
St. Cloud at Harmony, 6 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Liberty at Poinciana, 5 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Friday (Apr. 21)
Liberty at Poinciana. 6:30 p.m., Baseball
Gateway at Davenport, 7 p.m., Baseball
Lake Howell at St. Cloud, 7:15 p.m., Softball
Trinity Christian at Tohopekaliga, 6 p.m., Softball
Celebration at Southwest Miami, 6:30 p.m., Boys Volleyball
Saturday (Apr. 22)
Celebration at Miami, 12 Noon, Boys Volleyball