LAKELAND -- As expected, there was no team triumphs for Miami-Dade schools Saturday night at the state wrestling championships at the Lakeland Center, but there certainly was some individual triumphs.
Longtime power Brandon took the Class 3A team title with 151 points, which was expected. Columbus finished fourth with 73 points for the best Dade showing.
Dade recorded a more-than-respectable three individual champions among the Class 3A large schools competing.
Ritchie Guillaume concluded a long journey by leading North Miami Beach with his victory at 145 pounds, a tight 1-0 decision against Christian Lohsen of DeLand.
“I’m so proud of that kid,” NMB coach James Pierre said. “I told him he would get at least one state title before he graduated. And he did it.”
Guillaume remembered finishing as runner-up at state as a freshman, and then not placing the next two years. So, this was his last year and his last chance. He made the most of it.
“Because it was my last shot, it makes it that much better,” Guillaume said.
Guillaume credited his coaches after Saturday’s finale, but the person that meant the most to him is his mother.
“She pushed me in everything — in a positive way,” he said. “She and wrestling changed me. She had to raise me because my dad left me. And she did a perfect job.”
Unfortunately, Guillaume’s mother couldn’t be in Lakeland to see her son on the victory stand. “She had to work,” explained Guillaume.
“I called her right after the match,” he said, “and she started crying.”
Another 3A Dade champion, and this one wasn’t expected, came at 132 pounds.
Southwest’s Nosomy Pozo settled a score against a familiar opponent, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Shiquan Hall, in that match. “We’ve wrestled since middle school and he has dominated me,” Pozo said. That certainly wasn’t the case Saturday night as Pozo did the dominating, 12-3.
“He beat me a lot of times, but tonight was my turn,” Pozo said. “This means so much to me. I’ve been working so hard to change things. We have some history, so this is great.”
Southwest coach Joel Mendez said, “He’s a kid that has come a long, long way.”
One year, Pozo was ejected from the Greater Miami Athletic Conference meet, and that resulted in a six-week sports suspension that caused him to miss the state tournament.
“That’s the past,” Mendez said. “We were able to put it all together this year.”
The final Dade 3A championship was provided by Columbus’ Nicholas Wethy, who gave the Explorers their first individual title in 20 years and provided coach Jim Husk his 62nd overall individual championship.
Wethy, who sustained a bloody nose during his match, beat Ben Cruz of Kissimmee Osceola 2-1 in a tight, defensive match.
What’s a little blood when you walk away with a state championship?
“It’s no problem,” Wethy said. “My nose bleeds all the time.”
At match’s end, Husk — wearing an extremely spiffy shirt — ran onto the mat to hug his wrestler. Of course, the new shirt ended up with a few blood stains.
“I don’t care,” Husk said. “It’s worth it.”
A fourth Dade state title came in the 1A final, when Doral Academy’s Danny Garcia won at 138 pounds by a 10-5 margin.
A year ago, Garcia finished third, and Saturday he said, “I’ve never felt like this in my life.”
Christopher Moreno, also of Doral, finished second in the 120-pound division when he lost 6-5 to Tony Ruggiero of Wesley Chapel.
South Dade’s Justin Ramirez made it to the 126-pound final but settled for second when he was dominated by Brandon’s Dylan Lucas.
Third-place finishers from Dade included Columbus’ Robert Powell at 138 pounds in Class 3A, South Dade’s Maleek Williams with a pin in the Class 3A 113-pound match, and Mater Academy’s Yancarlos Guerra in Class 2A at 126 pounds.
Team Standings: 1. Brandon, 151; 2. Osceola Kissimmee 163.5; 3. St. Thomas Aquinas 90.5; 4. Columbus 73; 5. Palm Harbor 71.5. Top Dade schools: 6. South Dade 71; 7. North Miami Beach 61. 8. Southwest 53.5; 15. Braddock 25.