When things got a little tough for South Dade on Friday night in the state wrestling championships, Pat Lugo responded by getting a little tougher.
And then Lugo got really tough on his opponent.
South Dade started the quarterfinal round at Silver Spurs Arena slowly by losing three of its first five matches.
Up came Lugo, a defending state champion who has won 122 matches in a row, and he put a crunch on the tailspin as well as putting a crunch on his opponent, pinning Timothy Dinsdale of Manatee in 1:21 of a 152-pound match. That victory over, South Dade coach Vic Balmeceda raced over to a nearby mat to watch 160-pounder Isaiah Crosby, another defending state champion, pin his opponent in 1:10.
“Those two matches turned things around,” Balmeceda said, indicating he was more troubled than concerned about the slow quarterfinal start.
So the day that had a few bumps and maybe some bruises — this is wrestling, after all — ended this way:
South Dade started in the morning with 11 wrestlers. Only one of those wrestlers lost in the first round. In the quarterfinals, after the atypical start, the Bucs advanced six to Saturday morning’s semifinals. In addition, the other five wrestlers advanced in the wrestlebacks. And, most important, South Dade was in first place in the Class 3A standings with 78 points.
The Bucs, in search of a 10th state wrestling title, were followed by Winter Springs (52), Miami Southwest (51), Kissimmee Osceola (49.5) and Flagler Palm Coast (42). Southridge (34) was seventh and Braddock (30.5) eighth.
“I hate to see my teammates losing,” Lugo said. “But I knew we still had a lot of weapons left in the lineup. Also, if some of them lost, I knew they would come back and take third.
“There was no pressure on me. I just had to handle my business. If everyone does their own part, we will be all right as a team.”
For his own part, Balmeceda was happy to see Lugo step on the mat.
Was he worried that Lugo might lose and then there would be real trouble? Not at all.
“There are just some things out there that won’t happen,” Balmeceda said. “One of those is Pat Lugo losing.”
Balmeceda added, “Lugo and Crosby put us back on track.”
Besides Lugo and Crosby, making the semifinals for South Dade were Curtis Cannon (120), Ozzy Lugo (126), Chei Hill (195) and Kyron Taylor (285).
Southwest advanced four wrestlers to the semifinals in Franco Valdes (126), Angel Del Cueto (138), Maykel Doloril (170) and Joseph Kennedy (220).
Southridge had four semifinalists in Randy McCray (106), Jordan Marshall (120), Antony Kinsey (132) and Darius Hamilton (220). In the semis for Braddock were Alex Victor (106), Bryan Dominguez (132) and Milton Hope (182). Also a semifinalist from Dade was South Miami’s Gabriel Marrero (220)
For the small schools, the top Dade 2A school was Belen Jesuit in 32nd place and Keys Gate in 17th place in 1A.
▪ Class 3A Team Standings — 1. South Dade 78.0, 2. Southwest Miami 54.0, 3. Winter Springs 52.0, 4. Osceola (Kissimmee) 49.5, 5. Flagler Palm Coast 42.0, 6. North Port 40.0, 7. Miami Southridge 34.0, 8. Braddock 30.5, 9. St. Thomas Aquinas 27.5, 10. George Jenkins 27.0, 10. Manatee 27.0, 10. Palm Harbor University 27.0, 13. Fleming Island 25.0, 14. Olympic Heights 20.0, 15. Wellington 18.0, 16. Lyman 17.0, 17. East Lake 16.0, 18. Dr. Phillips 14.0, 19. Palm Beach Gardens 12.0, 19. Riverview (Riverview) 12.0, 21. Gateway 11.0, 22. Bartow 10.0, 22. John I. Leonard 10.0, 22. Oviedo 10.0, 25. Buchholz 9.0, 25. Countryside 9.0, 25. North Miami 9.0, 25. Sandalwood 9.0, 25. Strawberry Crest 9.0, 30. Durant 8.0, 30. Hagerty 8.0, 30. Jupiter 8.0, 30. South Miami 8.0
▪ Class 2A Team Standings — 1. Brandon 75.5, 2. Springstead 53.0, 3. Lake Gibson 37.0, 4. Jesuit 36.5, 5. Jensen Beach 35.5, 32. Belen Jesuit 10.0, 35. Archbishop McCarthy 9.0, 35. Stranahan 9.0, 39. Homestead 7.0.