Dade coaches style every year by wearing suits the night of the state wrestling finals.
And then they often watch their students put the finishing touches on another historic season.
Consistent dominance by Miami-Dade County wrestlers has become the norm again over the past few seasons at the state tournament.
In addition to South Dade’s team victory in Class 3A last year, three teams cracked the top four in the standings and eight individual state champions were crowned overall.
Spearheaded by South Dade’s historic bid to become the county’s first team to win four consecutive state titles, several teams and individuals are likely to come away with gold once again this season.
The Bucs aren’t the only ones chasing history.
At Southwest, senior Franco Valdes has a chance to do something no other South Florida wrestler is believed to have ever done.
Valdes has advanced to the state tournament every year since he was a seventh-grader at Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines. Valdes, a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga commitment, is believed to be the first wrestler from Dade or Broward with a chance to place in the top three at state in six seasons.
Valdes, a two-time state champion, hasn’t tasted victory at state since his freshman season, however, and hopes to change that by moving up in weight class to 132 pounds or as high as 145 by the end of this season.
South Dade could match Oviedo for the second-longest state title streak in state history behind Brandon, which enters this year having won 16 in a row.
Senior Kyron Taylor is one of four individual state champions returning for South Dade, which enters the season on a 75-match winning streak in dual meets and ranked No. 7 nationally by Wrestling USA Magazine.
South Dade’s main challengers again figure to be Southridge and Southwest, as well as a much improved St. Thomas Aquinas squad coached by Bucs’ alum Robert Wimberly.
Taylor, a state champion for the first time last season in the heavyweight class, and senior Chei Hill, are All-Americans and should help the Bucs dominate the heavier classes.
Taylor won a national championship in the offseason as did South Dade coach Victor Balmeceda’s son, Brevin, who will likely move up to the 145-pound class after winning a state title last year at 132. Balmeceda is a two-time state champion, having won his first as an eighth-grader at Keys Gate.
South Dade senior Elijah Varona, another All-American, is moving up to 113 pounds after winning state at 106. South Dade has a solid contender in that weight class with junior national champion Bretli Reyna, a freshman.
On the heels of their football team’s successful season, Southridge returns heavyweight Melchesidek Jeudy and hopes to have another successful season following last year’s state runner-up finish - 33 points behind South Dade.
Dec. 2-3: Somerset Duals; Dec. 9-10: Graves Tournament; Joe/Mac tournament at North Miami; Dec. 14: Jackson girls round robin tourney; Dec. 16-17: Coral Park Holiday Tournament; South Dade Duals; KSA Event in Orlando; Dec. 21-22: KSA Event in Orlando; Dec. 26-31: Deep South Bayou Duals; Christmas Knockout Classic; KSA Event in Orlando; Jan. 6-7: Cradle Cancer Girls Invitational at McArthur; Archbishop McCarthy Invitational; Jan. 11: Jackson girls round robin tourney part 2; Jan. 13-14: District duals at Sunset; Jan. 18: Jackson MLK Jr. Duals; Jan. 20-21: GMAC championship; Jan. 25: Westminster Christian Duals; Jan. 27-28: District Duals at Coral Gables; Feb. 8: Inner City Battle Brawl at Jackson; Feb. 10-11: Jupiter tournament; Cav Crush at Coral Gables; Feb. 11: All girls state championship in Orlando; Feb. 13-18: Districts; Feb. 24-25: Regionals; March 3-4: State championship at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
2015-16 STATE TEAM CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: South Dade; 2A: Brandon; 1A: Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
1. South Dade; 2. Southwest; 3. Southridge; 4. Columbus; 5. Killian; 6. Braddock; 7. North Miami; 8. Coral Gables; 9. Goleman; 10. Coral Park.
TOP RETURNING WRESTLERS
106: Ryan Boncamper, Killian, Sr.; Bretli Reyna, South Dade, Fr.; 113: Elijah Varona, South Dade, Sr.; Charlie Huffman, Columbus, So.; 120: Arie Reyes, South Dade, Sr.; 132: Franco Valdes, Southwest, Sr.; Mikael Codinach, Columbus, Sr.; Marcus Abreu, Coral Park, Sr.; 138: Christopher Bentley, Columbus, Sr.; Alex Urquiza, Southwest, Jr.; 145: Brevin Balmeceda, South Dade, So.; 152: Angel Delcueto, Southwest, Sr.; 160: Todd Perry, South Dade, So.; Noel Fuentes, Southwest, Jr.; 170: Adrian Perez, Miami Beach, Sr.; 182: Marshal Sweet, Killian, Sr.; 195: Corey Harvey, South Dade, Jr.; 220: Chei Hill, South Dade, Sr.; Darius Hamilton, Southridge, Jr.; Giovanny Mentor, Killian, Sr.; HWT: Kyron Taylor, South Dade, Sr.; Melchesidek Jeudy, Southridge, Sr.
1. SOUTH DADE (Coach Victor Balmeceda, 22nd year at SD, 24th overall, 333-19). Last year: 23-0 (State champions). Top wrestlers: HWT Kyron Taylor, Sr.; 220 Chei Hill, Sr.; 145/152 Brevin Balmeceda, So.; 113 Elijah Varona, Sr.; 152/160 Todd Perry, So.; 106 Bretli Reyna, Fr.
2. SOUTHWEST (Coach Joel Mendez). Last year: 13-3 (Fourth at state). Top wrestlers: Franco Valdes, 132-145, Sr.; Angel Delcueto, 152-170, Sr.; Alex Urquiza, 132-145, Jr.; Noel Fuentes, 145-160, Sr.; Jorge Benitez, 152-170, Sr.; Julian Hernandez, 106-120, So.
3. SOUTHRIDGE (Coach Kenneth Johnson, 10th year). Last year: State runner-up. Top wrestlers: Melchesidek Jeudy, HWT, Jr.
4. COLUMBUS (Coach Jim Husk, 13th year at COL, 52nd overall, 909-106-4). Last year: 18-3 (12th at state). Top wrestlers: Chris Bentley, 138/145, Sr.; Mikael Codinach, 132/138, Sr.; Charles Huffman, 113, So.; Robert Perez, HWT, Sr.; Mike Fernandez, 160, Jr.; Dylan Perez, 220, So.
5. KILLIAN (Coach Salvador Moncada, 5th year at KIL, 21st overall). Last year: 18-6. Top wrestlers: Ryan Boncamper, 106, Sr.; Giovanni Mentor, 220, Sr.; Marshal Sweet, 182, Sr.; Trayvonne Jackson, HWT, Jr.; Alejandro Gonzalez, 132, Jr.; Alejandro Torres-Cortez, 113, Sr.
6. BRADDOCK (Coach Saul Tejada, 23rd year). Last year: 18-12. Top wrestlers: Jesus Bencomo, 160, Sr.; Luis Hernandez, 120, Jr.; Lucas Zamora, 182, So.; Lazaro Serrano, 132, So.; Alex Baldomero, 126, So.; Saul Tejada, 170, Sr.
7. CORAL GABLES (Coach Angel Vazquez, 12th year, 151-33-3). Last year: 26-3. Top wrestlers: Jafari Stephens, HWT, Jr.; Carlos Leon, 120, Sr.; Darien Martinez, 220, Sr.; Katalina Bartlett, 106, Jr.; Angel Perez, 126, Jr.; Noah Pla, 132, Sr.
8. CORAL PARK - Top wrestlers: Marcus Abreu, 132, Sr.; Daniel Martinez, 160, Sr.; Sebastian Calmet, 113, Jr.; Nelson Hernandez, 170, Sr.
9. CORAL REEF (Coach Miguel Dominguez, 5th year, 59-44). Last year: 14-14. Top wrestlers: Leo Hernandez, 160, Jr.; Matthew Porry, 152, So.; Samantha Smith, 113, Sr.
10. PALMETTO (Coach C.J. Singleton, 3rd year for PAL, 23rd overall). Last year: 4-7. Top wrestlers: Cardionte Wilson, 145, Jr.; James Findlay, 126, Sr.
11. REAGAN (Coach Kevin Whelan, 2nd year at RR, 3rd overall, 11-27). Last year: 7-15. Top wrestlers: Richard Mayol, 170, Sr.; Gabriel Barrocas, 195, Sr.; Adrian Nova, 195, Sr.; Nicolas Rivera, 132, Jr.; Nicolas Perez, 160, Sr.
1. GOLEMAN (Coach Mansito, 3rd year, 35-15). Last year: 20-5 (District champions). Top wrestlers: Christian Rodriguez, 138, Jr.; Raul Chavarry, 145, So.; Oscar Perez, 160, Jr.; Maximo Fernandez, 220, So.
2. BELEN JESUIT (Coach Fidel Albelo, 25th year, 126-52). Last year: 3-2. Top wrestlers: Eddie Silva, 132, Fr.; Damian Cuesta, 152, So.
3. MIAMI SPRINGS (Coach David Ryan, 34th year, 359-160). Last year: 11-10. Top wrestlers: Alex Rodriguez, 160, Sr.; Keith Ramos, 138, So.
4. DORAL ACADEMY (Coach Jairo Sandoval, 3rd year, 13-44). Last year: 4-31. Top wrestlers: Kevin Martinez, 132/138, Sr.; Dylan Mira, 126/132, 8th; Edwin Adams, 132/138, So.
1. MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Frank Pelegri). Top wrestlers: Derrod Walker, 106; Rodrigue Bichotte; Vladimir Rochebrun, 171; Jack Lloyd 132; Max Banjamin, 220.
2. WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Kevin Pederson, 5th year, 35-10). Last year: 12-5. Top wrestlers: Anthony Machado, 170, Sr.