Miami-Dade will be keeping its eyes on South Dade and Broward County will be watching Cardinal Gibbons as the two-day state wrestling tournament begins Friday at the Silver Spurs Arena.
The venue is a change from recent years, when the meet was held at the Lakeland Civic Center.
South Dade will be wrestling in the 3A division for the largest schools, with traditional power Brandon in the 2A division and Gibbons in the 1A division.
South Dade, which appears to be the strongest team in the state regardless of division, is ready to make that a certainty as it advanced 11 wrestlers out of regionals.
“They are excited,” South Dade coach Vic Balmeceda said of his squad. “They see the light at the end of the tunnel after a lot of hard work.”
Eleven advancing is a big number for South Dade to bring to state, and the Bucs are led by Patricio Lugo, who takes a 59-0 record into the 152-pound division at state. His brother Ozzy will try to make it a family double when he competes in the 126-pound class with a 45-3 mark.
“Sometimes you just have quantity,” Balmeceda said, “but we have quantity and quality.”
In the regional, Gibbons totaled 257.5 points and Somerset Academy finished second with 174.
The state meet begins Friday, with the first round at 10 a.m. followed by wrestlebacks. The Saturday semifinals start at 9:30 a.m. followed by wrestlebacks, and then the fifth and sixth finishers and the third and fourth finishers will be determined.
The championship round begins at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday.
State wrestling championships
When: Friday and Saturday.
Where: Silver Spurs Arena, 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee.
Admission: $9; Parking: $7 per car, $14 per bus.
Defending state champions – Class 3A: South Dade; Class 2A: Brandon; Class 1A: Cardinal Gibbons.
Friday’s schedule: Weigh-ins, 8 a.m.; first round competition, 10 a.m.; wrestlebacks (first round), following first round; second round competition, following first round of wrestlebacks; wrestlebacks (second round, following second round of competition).
Saturday’s schedule: Weigh-ins, 8 a.m.; semifinals (6 mats), 9:30 a.m.; wrestlebacks (third round and fourth round), following semifinals; fifth and sixth place finals and third and fourth place finals (9 mats), following fourth round wrestlebacks; arena opens, 4:30 p.m. (wrestlers, 4:15 p.m.); introduction of finalists, 5:15 p.m.; Russ Mauger Award, 5:25 p.m.; championship finals, 5:30 p.m.