South Dade wrestler Patricio Lugo is not only a defending state champion, but he also hasn’t known what it’s like to lose all season.
Bringing a 58-0 record into Saturday night’s finals of the 152-pound division of the Region 4-3A championship at Ronald Reagan High School, he wasn’t about to see that perfect record go down as he pinned Braddock’s Salvador Lopez in the finals for No. 59.
Lugo and his brother Ozzy, who won the 126-pound division, were two of six South Dade wrestlers who made it into the winner’s circle to lead the defending state champion to its seventh consecutive regional title with 261 points, well ahead of second-place finisher Southwest at 188.
Nine wrestlers made it to the championship match and coach Vic Balmeceda will take 11 to Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee next weekend as the Bucs attempt to repeat as state champions.
“It’s not that easy,” Patricio Lugo said. “Everybody looks at your record and thinks it’s easy. It’s a lot of hard work to make it to this point. My coaches and partners have really made me work hard and have done everything I could ask for. Now I want to go up there and not only repeat as an individual state champ but bring the state title home for us as a team as well.”
Said Balmeceda: “Putting nine in the finals, getting six champs, it’s just a tremendous effort by our kids because this county is the hardest region to come out of in 3A.”
Olson Delisca (113 lbs.), Justin Ramirez (145 lbs.), Isaiah Crosby (160 lbs.) and Chei Hill (195 lbs.) were the other South Dade champions. Ramirez is the other perfect wrestler for the Bucs, as he will take a 34-0 record to state, and Crosby (28-1) will look to repeat as a state champion.
In the closest match of the night, Southridge’s Jordan Marshall, locked in a 1-1 tie with Curtis Cannon in the 120-pound division, took Cannon down with two seconds left to pull out a 3-1 win.
“It was getting late,” Marshall said. “I didn’t want to go overtime and I had to take a chance and made my move.”
The biggest upset of the night also involved a South Dade wrestler as Marcelo Sierra, favored to win the 138-pound division, fell to Cypress Bay’s Tyler Sage 3-0. Sage and his fellow teammate Carlos Osterling who lost to Hill in the 195-pound final, were the lone wrestlers carrying the banner for Broward in the finals.
“I just wanted to go out and hit my offense but he was tough,” said Sage, now 54-4. “My bottom game was there which is funny because he’s pretty tough from on top but I’m better from the bottom and felt that was my best chance to win. It feels great to do this because I wanted to bring a title home to Broward County.”
More high drama took place in the 182-pound division when Braddock’s Milton Hope literally held on to knock off Adolpho Sotolongo of Southwest 5-2. With 40 seconds left in the match, Hope went off the mat and got his leg caught in an awkward position and winced in pain.
In visible pain and wrestling on one leg, Hope rode out Sotolongo for the final 40 seconds to hang on and protect his three-point lead.
“When I was going out bounds, my leg got caught in an awkward position,” Hope said as he limped out of the gym with an ice pack on his right knee. “It looks like a strained MCL but I don’t care, nothing is going to keep my off the mat next week.”
Balmeceda was asked about his team being being the target as defending state champion.
“We love the pressure,” he said. “We embrace it, we welcome it. We want that bulls-eye on our back. Pressure creates diamonds and we want everybody to be gunning for us. That makes us wrestle better and that’s what we need to take with us to Kissimmee.”
Team Standings — 1. South Dade 261.5, 2. Southwest 188.0, 3. Braddock 131.0, 4. Southridge 124.0, 5. Columbus 95.5, 6. Cypress Bay 93.0, 7. North Miami 85.5, 8. Palmetto 73.0, 9. South Miami 43.0, 10. Coral Gables 42.0, 11. Cooper City 39.0, 11. South Broward 39.0, 13. McArthur 36.0, 14. Coral Park 30.0. Championship Results — 106: Victor (BR) d. Martinez (COL) 8-3. 113: Delisca (SD) d. Garcia-Ramirez (SW) 8-1. 120: Marshall (SR) d. Cannon (SD) 3-1. 126: O. Lugo (SD) d. Caceres (BR) maj. dec. 13-0. 132: Kinsey (SR) d. Dominguez (BR) 15-10. 138: Sage (CB) d. Sierra (SD) 3-0. 145: Ramirez (SD) d. Chester (PAL) 5-0. 152: P. Lugo (SD) d. Lopez (BR) Fall, 3:36. 160: Crosby (SD) d. Chery (NM) Fall, 0:39. 170: Dolorit (SW) d. Acosta (CP) T. Fall, 18-3. 182: Hope (BR) d. Sotolongo (SW) 5-2. 195: Hill (SD) d. Osterling (CB) Fall, 4:14. 220: Hamilton (SR) d. Rodriguez (SD) 6-0. 285: Moss (PAL) d. Dulin (COL) 3-2. Consolation Results — 106: McCray (SR) d. Varona (SD) 4-2. 113: M. Codinach (COL) d. Mompoint (NM) Fall, 2:17. 120: Vizcaino (CG) d. Villamil (BR) 4-2. 126: Valdes (SW) d. A. Codinach (COL) Fall, 1:32. 132: Nordelo (SM) d. Urquiza (SW) 5-4. 138: Del Cueto (SW) d. Londono (W) 3-0. 145: Marcelin (NM) d. Fuertes (CB) 2-1. 152: Delacruz (SW) d. Amaya (SM) Fall, 2:23. 160: Hernandez (SW) d. Merieles (KIL) Maj. dec. 13-1. 170: Perez (FERG) d. Prudhomme (EV) inj. default. 182: Torres (McA) d. Sierra (COL) 3-1. 195: Scott (NM) d. Brown (SW) Fall, 0:56. 220: Marrero (SM) d. Kennedy (SW) maj. dec. 10-2. 285: Taylor (SD) d. Aulean (SB) Fall, 3:47.