For what’s supposed to be the down year for South Dade wrestling, it’s doing quite alright.
South Dade, not as strong as its nationally-ranked teams each of the two previous seasons, advanced 10 wrestlers into the semifinal round and leads in team standings by 28 ½ points over No. 2 Southwest on the first day of GMAC championships on Friday at Doral Ronald Reagan High.
“This is supposed to be the year we’re vulnerable to lose,” South Dade coach Vic Balmeceda said. “I’m sitting here with a grin on my face. We’re wrestling outrageous right now.”
After the five already-established core wrestlers for the Buccaneers — defending state champion ninth-grader Brevin Balmeceda (132 pounds), two-time state champion Ozzy Lugo (145), defending GMAC champion Chei Hill (195), returning state runner-up Kyron Taylor (285) and Elijah Varona (106) — Balmeceda got impressive performances from the group that follows.
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Peter Webb (120) defeated North Miami’s David Mompoint, seeded ahead of him, in a 14-1 majority decision to advance into semifinals, and Jason Geffrard (220), who has all but one year of wrestling experience, made it through to join Arie Reyes, Todd Perry and Aaron Flores as Buccaneers still alive.
The semifinals will be wrestled right back at Regan on Saturday.
“This is the time when your second-tier kids make their mark and help you get to the level you’ve been at for previous years,” Balmeceda said.
“[On Saturday], it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to take some upsets, us being strong-minded and believing in how hard we worked and believing in South Dade tradition to get us through some of these matches.”
Last season the Buccaneers had 12 wrestlers advance into semifinals at GMAC. On Friday, they could’ve done the same had it not been for Coral Reef’s Leonard Wooten upsetting Corey Harvey, the No. 2 seed in the 182-pound bracket, in an 8-6 decision and Joel Ramirez falling to Miami Springs’ David Sanchez 15-8 at 138.
Southwest sits in second place heading into Saturday with eight wrestlers in semifinals. Southridge and Columbus sit in third and fourth with seven each.
At 152, Miami High’s Guervins Jean upset No. 1 seed Bryan Dominguez of Braddock with a 10-9 decision. He advanced into Saturday’s semifinals with an 8-3 decision over Zachary Rendueles of Hialeah Gardens in quarterfinals and will face Southridge’s Marcos Perez.
Semifinals are expected to begin at noon on Saturday followed by wrestlebacks in the morning.
The inaugural girls’ GMAC wrestling bracket will be run Saturday morning, as well.
▪ Team standings: 1. South Dade 151.5, 2. Southwest 123, 3. Southridge 109.5, 4. Columbus 105.5, 5. Coral Gables 67.5, 5. Killian 67.5, 7. North Miami 64.5, 8. Coral Park 57.5, 9. Miami Beach 56.5, 10. Braddock 56, 10. Coral Reef 56.
▪ Semifinal pairings — 106: Elijah Varona (SD) vs. Sebastian Calmet (CP), Charles Huffman (Col) vs. Ryan Boncamper (Kil); 113: Alex Victor (Bra) vs. James Findlay (Pal), Arie Reyes (SD) vs. Angel Perez (SW); 120: Randy McCray (SR) vs. Peter Webb (SD), Alaen Gonzalez (SW) vs. Edgar Martinez (Col); 126: Jordan Marshall (SR) vs. Anthony Viscaino (CG), Mikael Codinach (Col) vs. Franco Valdes (SW); 132: Brevin Balmeceda (SD) vs. Martin Castillo (MB), Alberto Mendoza (SR) vs. Alex Urquiza (SW); 138: Anthony Kinsey (SR) vs. Chris Bentley (Col), David Sanchez (MS) vs. Emmanuel Nordelo (SM); 145: Ozzy Lugo (SD) vs. Yisrael Londono (MB), Anthony Codinach (Col) vs. Angel Delcuento (SW); 152: Guervins Jean (MHS) vs. Marcos Perez (SR), Todd Perry (SD) vs. Romoan Chester (Pal); 160: Aaron Flores (SD) vs. Noel Fuentes (SW), Richard Mayol (RR) vs. Luis Rios (SR); 170: Deandre Chery (NM) vs. Adrian Perez (MB), William Santana (Bra) vs. Jason Kaercher (CR); 182: Enrique Kelly (Gol) vs. Adrian Nova (RR), Reshad Thorton (SW) vs. Leonard Wooten (CR); 195: Chei Hill (SD) vs. Ivan Martinez (Gol), Christian Guzman (CP) vs. Adolfo Sotolongo (SW); 220: Kyle Mann (Col) vs. Mickie Olesco (NM), Jason Geffrard (SD) vs. Giovanny Mentor (Kil); 285: Kyron Taylor (SD) vs. Melschisedek Jeudy (SR), Trayvonne Jackson (Kil) vs. Jaafari Stephens (CG).
A familiar trio of schools lead the way heading into the final day of the BCAA wrestling tournament held at Pompano Beach High School.
Cypress Bay at 125 points holds a 9.5-point lead over St. Thomas Aquinas with Cardinal Gibbons 16.5 back of the Lightning. The three schools took the top three spots last year.
“We knew that if we came out and wrestled like we have all year we’d have a shot to win the tournament. We put ourselves in good position,” Cypress Bay coach Allen Held said.
“The kids want to win the title. Obviously I want to win the title.”
Cypress Bay also leads with nine wrestlers advancing to Saturday’s semifinals and five in the consolation rounds. Aquinas has seven wrestlers in the semifinals while Gibbons has five.
Previously undefeated Gibbons junior Joey Lopez surprisingly did not make the semifinals in the 138-pound weight class. The No. 2 seed was one of the few experienced members in the Chiefs’ lineup this year.
“We’re very, very young. I’ve got seven freshmen in the lineup, so to me, this is a building year,” Gibbons coach Frank Pettineo said. “We’re in the hunt. It’s a three-man horse race.”
The semifinals start at 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning with the finals set to begin that night at 6:15 p.m. at Pompano Beach.
▪ Team standings: 1. Cypress Bay 125; 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 115.5; 3. Cardinal Gibbons 108.5; 4. Cooper City 90; 5. Everglades 69; 6. Hollywood Hills 68; 7. South Broward 67; 8. Coral Springs 57; 9. Stranahan 55; 10. Coconut Creek 52; 11. Fort Lauderdale 47; 12. Monarch 44; 12. Plantation 44; 14. Taravella 43; 15. McArthur 40.
▪ Semifinal pairings – 106: Johnson (CS) vs. Portilla (CBay), Ant. Valverde (SB) vs. Pierre (Ever); 113: Sylvestre (HH) vs. And. Valverde (SB), Guerriero (STA) vs. Mason (CBay); 120: Gibson (CG) vs. Morales (CCity), Busenbarrick (CBay) vs. Chitty (CGla); 126: Moreno (STA) vs. Duchene (Ever), Fuertes (CBay) vs. Saleh (WB); 132: Cohen (CBay) vs. Cruz (Mon), Sessa (STA) vs. Emmanuel (Str); 138: Aranoff (STA) vs. Komatz (Doug), Stephens (CS) vs. Hueck (HH); 145: Marcus (STA) vs. Ad. Concepcion (CBay), L. Jones (CCity) vs. Ley (CG); 152: C. Jones (CCity) vs. Leon (Str), Manning (Crk) vs. Am. Concepcion (CBay); 160: Lopouchanski (CG) vs. Burgess (NE), Colaco (FtL) vs. Nogradi (Ever); 170: Boudreau (Str) vs. Gibson (Ever), Jones (CS) vs. Young (Mon); 182: Georgescu (CG) vs. Eisman (CBay), Gonzalez (CCity) vs. Gittman (STA); 195: Williams (CG) vs. Campbell (CS), Mane (STA) vs. Osterling (CBay); 220: Charles (Ely) vs. Guzman (CCity), R. Valverde (SB) vs. Henry (Pl); 285: Aulean (SB) vs. Carr (Str), Moreira (FtL) vs. Melchanov (HH).