Southwest captured its first district wrestling title since 1997, but coach Joel Mendez called it bittersweet as nine of 10 wrestlers lost in their final bouts.
Still, the Eagles accumulated 211 points to take the District 15-3A championship on Friday afternoon at Coral Park High School.
Franco Valdez pinned Anthony Codinach of Columbus in the 120-pound class for Southwest’s lone individual title. Jesse Acedo, last year’s district winner at 120, dropped a 7-4 decision to Columbus’ Christopher Bentley.
“We won the district title, but it still hurts to see those kids lose in the finals,” said Mendez, whose team got second last year. “There’s always next week. Maybe it’ll be a good wakeup call for them and motivate them and prepare them better for next week. “Braddock, which graduated six wrestlers last season, came in second with 183.5 points.
Six Bulldogs won their respective classes, a mark the program hadn’t accomplished in years. Three of the first five weights went to Braddock.
Three of their wrestlers redeemed themselves from last year. Nicholas Villamil, who lost at 106, bested Southwest’s Carlos Zaragoza in an 11-1 major decision. Sebastian Calderon, who finished fourth at 160, earned a 6-3 decision over Coral Park’s Lazaro Acosta; John Wesley, who got fourth in 2013, became heavyweight champion with a 2:34 pin on Southwest’s Roberto Herrera.
“We’ve had a few minor setbacks and we didn’t come in with a full squad, but they were aware that it’s an uphill battle,” coach Saul Tejada said. “The guys knew traditionally we’re just getting better as the weeks go by, and they believe.”
Defending district champion Columbus had four wrestlers win their matches to place third with 163.5 points.
Damian Penichet, who lost to eventual state champion Nosomy Pozo in 2013, pinned South Miami’s Joel Amaya at 1:27 for his first district title since sophomore year.
After a fifth-place finish at state, Penichet has just three losses this season after focusing more on another element of his wrestling: “My mental game because that takes a lot out of you,” Penichet said.
Other wrestlers who rebounded from tough defeats last year include Columbus’ Kier Rodriguez (160 pounds) and South Miami’s Jean Concepion (195).
Regionals will take place Feb. 7-8 at Ronald Reagan High School in Doral.