Sometimes in life there are special moments that will always be etched in a person’s memory. Just ask South Dade wrestling coach Vic Balmeceda about that, because Saturday night he got a lifetime’s worth of those moments.
▪ He coached South Dade to the 10th state wrestling championship in the school’s history.
▪ Two of his stalwart athletes, Pat Lugo and Isaiah Crosby, repeated as state champions.
▪ He got to see the Lugo brothers, Pat and Ozzy, embrace after they both had captured state championships.
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▪ And, to end a very good evening, Balmeceda’s son Brevin — an eighth-grader — won the Class 1A state championship in the final 20 seconds of the night’s final match.
“If it gets any better than this, I have never witnessed it,” Vic Balmeceda said inside the Silver Spurs Arena.
South Dade won the Class 3A state title in dominating fashion, as expected.
The Bucs totaled 187 points to put a stranglehold on the trophy, with Winter Springs second at 104. Other top Miami-Dade teams were Southwest in fourth with 88, Southridge in sixth with 80 and Braddock ninth with 67.5.
Balmeceda found himself torn between two mats during the final matches of the evening.
He was coaching in the center of three mats as Southridge’s Jordan Marshall was defeating South Dade’s Curtis Cannon in a 120-pound showdown.
On the mat immediately to Balmeceda’s right, his son — an eighth-grader — was wrestling for the state title. You better believe Balmeceda was sneaking a peek and occasionally yelling encouragement (OK, maybe even a few instructions) as the two matches were going on.
“I had to,” Balmeceda said between tears, congratulations and smiles. “That was my blood over there.”
The son did the dad proud.
Brevin, wrestling for Class 1A Keys Gate Charter, trailed Cardinal Gibbons’ Dominick Gibson 2-0 with 20 seconds remaining in the match but then made a takedown for two points and immediately rolled it into two more back points. He gave up a penalty point in the final seconds for a 4-3 triumph.
“It was a rabbit out of the hat,” his father said.
It was obvious how proud Balmeceda was of his son as he hugged him — and he was equally proud of his team’s performance.
“This team couldn’t have wrestled any better,” he said. “They are like a family to me.”
Winning state titles for the Bucs were the Lugo brothers and Crosby. Taking second-places were Cannon at 120 pounds, Chei Hill (195) and Kyron Taylor (285).
Other Class 3A state champions from Miami-Dade were Braddock’s Alex Victor (106 pounds) and Southridge’s Jordan Marshall (120). Finishing second from Dade in addition to the South Dade athletes were Southridge’s Randy McCray (106), Southwest’s Franco Valdez (126), Southwest’s Maykel Dolorit (170), Braddock’s Milton Hope (182) and Southridge’s Darius Hamilton (220).
In Class 2A, Homestead’s Travon Norman (160) took second place, losing to Palmetto Ridge’s Joey Nadotti.
One of the big surprises of the night was Belen Jesuit’s Julian Ramirez, a mere eighth-grader, winning the state championship in the Class 2A 138-pound division with a pin of Geoff Doback, who competes for wrestling powerhouse Brandon.