They did it again.
South Dade won its 14th overall FHSAA wrestling state championship on Saturday at Silver Spurs Arena and sixth in a row counting the first 3A Duals state title in January.
“I don’t know if winning the Duals helped us or hurt us. We tried to treat is as two separate things,” South Dade coach Victor Balmeceda said. “I know it put a bullseye on our back and it showed that we have an overall good team.”
South Dade picked up individual state championships from Luis Peraza (106), Bretli Reyna (120), Brevin Balmeceda (152) and Toddy Perry (160).
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“I think they did what they were supposed to do. At the beginning of the season, they thought they could win a state title and they went through a season and accomplished their goal. They worked hard.”
South Dade qualified 13 wrestlers for the state tournament, a team record, and placed seven in the state championship matches, tying last year’s team record while racking up 230 points, easily besting second-place Fleming Island (140) and third-place Oviedo Hagerty (108).
“This team was supposed to be a little less dominant than other teams we had. But we broke some records this year. I didn’t think we were going to be as good as in past years, but they proved me wrong,” Balmeceda said.
It was second-consecutive state title for Reyna, a sophomore, who said last year’s felt a tad-bit better because he was excited, but this one checked a goal off on his list.
“It is pretty fun. I am kind of happy I won my second. It is something I wanted to accomplish all my life,” Reyna said.
Lake Highland Prep won the 1A state championship and Lake Gibson won 2A title, and both schools also won their respective Duals state titles in January. Balmeceda said it was a challenge to regroup after winning in January.
“It was hard to pick it back up because it almost felt like the season was over, and I am like wait a minute, we got another two months,” Balmeceda said. “There were some dead spots during the season where the practices lagged. We had to give them some breaks because you can’t maintain that level of intensity.”
Southridge junior Johnny Lovett won the 3A 145-pound championship, his first, beating Hagerty senior Devin Kohn in a thrilling 4-3 overtime, ultimate tie-breaker.
“That match wasn’t supposed to go like that. I was supposed to beat him badly,” Lovett said. “But everything happens for a reason. Now it is time for me to go back to the wrestling room and just go harder.”
Also winning a 3A individual state championships was Alexis Urquiza (138), from Southwest Miami, who was a 10-5 winner over Michael Marlins from Flagler Palm Coast.