With the district wrestling playoffs still five weeks away, the top three Class 3A teams in the state gathered at Southridge on Thursday afternoon for a tri-meet, and South Dade – not surprisingly – walked away the winner.
The Bucs, the two-time defending state champions, defeated No. 3 Southridge 38-29 and followed that up by defeating No. 2 Southwest 61-16.
One of the Bucs stars on Thursday was 152-pound freshman Todd Perry, who earned a 13-3 majority decision, upsetting Southridge’s Marco Perez. Perry also got a win against Southwest, wrestling up to the 160-pound class.
In the other match, Southridge topped Southwest 47-11.
Bucs coach Vic Balmeceda said he “wasn’t very pleased” with the narrow win over Southridge, which finished sixth at state last season.
“It was an ugly victory,” Balmeceda said. “I feel we have a better team than we showed.”
In the Southwest match, the Bucs had an easier time. But the Eagles, who finished fourth at state last year, were missing four of their wrestlers due to injury, ineligibility and other issues.
Overall, though, Balmeceda is happy about where his Bucs are at this point. South Dade is 13-0 and attempting to peak in time for the March 4-5 state tournament which will be held in Kissimmee for the second consecutive year.
“I know I’m going to sound a little cocky or arrogant,” Balmeceda said. “But entering the season, we had graduated 10 or 11 state qualifiers. We had great teams the past two years, and we lost a lot of kids.
“Everybody saw an opportunity that we were vulnerable. You hear, ‘this is the year we’re going to beat ‘em.’ Everybody saw us, Southridge and Southwest as pretty even, so they did have the potential to beat us.
“But until they get out there and wrestle us, that’s all it really is – potential. I look forward to that – I like when they think we’re down. That’s when we show up with some JV kid – some kid they didn’t know we had who has been training hard behind closed doors. And all of a sudden, they realize we’re not as vulnerable as they thought.”