State wrestling

Balmaceda’s big day ends with a South Dade title

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Nothing could go wrong for South Dade High and coach Vic Balmaceda on Saturday. A perfect day with a perfect ending.

First, Balmaceda’s son, Brevin, a seventh-grader at Keys Gate Charter, finished fourth in the state tournament at the ridiculously young age of 13.

After that, Balmaceda, the coach at South Dade for 21 years, was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

And those events were just the preliminaries.

Next came the big accomplishment as Balmaceda’s South Dade team ran away with the state Class 3A state championship, totaling 160.5 points to win handily. The Bucs had three indiviudal state champions, two runners-up and, most importantly, one state title and the trophy that goes with it.

The state championship was the ninth in South Dade’s history, but first since 2008.

“It’s a weekend you can only dream of,” Balmaceda said. “It was so great I’ll probably go outside and get hit by a bus tonight.”

Of his speech to his kids, he said, “I’m speechless. The kids will probably do all the talking. They’ll tell me, ‘Hey coach, look at what we did.’ “

The evening started off with an All-Miami-Dade final in 3A with South Dade’s Ozzy Lugo, a sophomore, taking on Miami Beach’s Erik Zorilla in the 106-pound weight class.

Lugo prevailed with a second-period pin.

“When I was a freshman, I wasn’t prepared for high school wrestling,” Lugo said of a year ago. “I didn’t even start on the team.”

He got some encouragement, though. His older brother, Pat, the Bucs’ 138-pounder, gave some advice. “He told me no matter what that I should keep my head high,” Ozzy said. “That’s when I told myself I would be a state champion and started working on it.”

After watching Ozzy win and raise his record to 56-1, Pat had some business to take care of himself. And he did. Pat defeated Sal Guerriero of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas to finish the year undefeated at 59-0.

That makes the Lugo brothers’ combined record for the year 115-1. Not bad.

“We’re going to have fun tonight,” Pat said of the Bucs. “Then we go back to training. We want to turn this night into being two-time state champions next year.”

Balmaceda said he will give his team a little more time off than a day.

“I want them to realize what they have done, what it means,” he said. “I want them to soak it in. I want them to enjoy it before the day is gone.”

Pat Lugo’s match was followed by another matchup between two Miami-Dade wrestlers — South Dade’s Isaiah Crosby and Columbus’ Damian Penichet. In the coaching chairs at the corners of the mat were two Hall of Famers — Columbus’ Jim Husk and South Dade’s Balmaceda.

Crosby pulled off the victory as the night was becoming more and more a South Dade celebration — or, if you like, a coronation.

Franco Valdes of Southwest won the 120-pound title in the Class 3A division by defeating South Dade’s Maleek Williams. The two traded victories and losses all season, with Williams winning the last meeting at regionals.

“I worked hard every day after regional,” Valdes said. “That loss motivated me.”

North Miami, with Daniel Leon closing the evening by winning the 285 division in overtime, finished sixth with 70 points and Southwest was 10th with 55.5 points.

Monsignor Pace had a state champion in Matt Kirkland and finished fifth in Class 1A with 59.5 points. Homestead was the top Dade team at 16th in 2A with 26 points.

National power Brandon won the 2A title, collecting a tournament high 237.5 points.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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