Having won the last eight GMAC wrestling team championships, things had gotten relatively routine when it came to the South Dade wrestlers.
But, leading by just nine points over Southwest heading into the finals late Saturday afternoon, there was nothing ho-hum for coach Vic Balmedceda and his Bucs wrestlers this time around.
They would need to perform, and they did.
Thanks to five Bucs wrestlers winning individual titles, South Dade had enough juice on Saturday to make it nine straight GMAC titles and 14 out of the last 15, finishing with 326 points, 11.5 ahead of the Eagles at Ronald Reagan High School.
With Southwest fielding as strong of a team as it has had in years, the Eagles are expected to challenge South Dade both at regionals in a few weeks and at the state tournament March 8-9. But this day, as so many always seem to do, belonged to South Dade.
“It’s good for the sport. It’s good for our kids to have to fight and go through some tough matches but of course it’s not as good for my health,” said Balmeceda with a chuckle. “I think this was just scratching the surface. We expect more tough battles ahead at regionals and state.”
Tyler Orta (126), Bretli Reyna (132), Joshua Swan (138), Brevin Balmeceda (160) and Todd Perry (170) were all winners in their respective weight classes for the Bucs.
“We’ve got our big horses including Bretli, Brevin and Todd (South Dade’s three defending state champions Reyna, Balmeceda and Perry) but what the key always is to pulling these things out are those secondary guys,” said Balmeceda. “Kids not necessarily winning or even making it to the finals but kids like Adrian Morales (second in 106), and Nico Adrian (third in 120) are the ones that can make a difference.”
The afternoon’s high drama came in the finals of the 120 lbs weight class.
That’s when Columbus’ Charley Huffman squared off against Sebastian Melguizo of Southwest.
With the match in a 1-1 deadlock in the waning seconds of the third period, it appeared to be headed to overtime. But Huffman managed to get a two-point takedown with less than five seconds left to come away with a 3-1 victory despite the protests of Southwest coach Mick Arteaga, who didn’t see the move worthy of two points and, to no avail, tried to argue his case afterwards.
“I lost a 1-0 lead when I got called for stalling so I knew sooner or later I would have to find an opening to try and get a takedown,” said Huffman, who helped his Explorers to a third-place finish. “I was aware I was running out of time. I could’ve taken it to overtime if I had to but I really wanted to try and win it in regulation if I could.”
Even more interesting than the last-second win itself was the backstory behind the match.
It was a year ago that the two were teammates at Columbus (Huffman took second at state in 120s, Melguizo fourth in 126) but soon after the state tournament, Melguizo transferred to Southwest.
Not only were they teammates but have known each other since the fifth grade and were drill partners always practicing against each other and will likely face each other again at regionals and even possibly at state.
“We wrestled against each other a lot so we’re familiar with each other and actually went to the same fifth grade wrestling club,” said Huffman. “Was it strange going up against him? Not really because in the end, when you get out on that mat, you can’t necessarily look at it that way. I’m a competitor and I know he is as well so even though you know the guy and have spent all that time together, he’s just another wrestler that you have to find a way to beat.”
106 – Nicholas Rios (Southwest) d. Adrian Morales (South Dade) 5-3; 113 – Christopher Busutil (Southridge) d. Jacob Delgado (South Dade) 10-4; 120 – Charles Huffman (Columbus) d. Sebastian Melguizo (Southwest) 3-1; 126 – Tyler Orta (South Dade) d. Jose Gonzalez (Southwest) 5-3; 132 – Bretli Reyna (South Dade) d. Jackson Wenberg (North Miami) Fall, 2:30; 138 – Joshua Swan (South Dade) d. Andy Dematas (Southwest ) TFall 22-7; 145 – Julian Hernandez (Southwest) d. Eric Temes (South Dade) 3-2; 152 – Johnny Lovett (Southridge) maj. d. Steven Villalobos (Coral Park) 18-7; 160 – Brevin Balmeceda (South Dade) d. George Llanes (Coral Park) Maj. d. 15-1; 170 – Todd Perry (South Dade) d. Bryan Valdes (Southwest) TF-1.5 2:02; 182 – Adrian Vidaud (Southwest) d. Sammy Bencid (Coral Park) 3-1, OT; 195 – Carmine Dascoli (Columbus) d. Chris Greene (Palmetto) 10-5; 220 – Taso Kourtakis (Southridge) d. Kenneth Crouse (South Dade) 1-0; 285 – Christian Sanchez (Southwest) d. Maxwell Diaz (Coral Park) Fall 5:56.
South Dade – 326; 2. Southwest – 314.5; Columbus – 221.5; Southridge – 171.5; Palmetto – 164.5; Coral Park – 146.5; North Miami – 125.5; Goleman – 113.5; Miami Beach – 94; Braddock – 92.5; Ferguson – 88; Coral Gables – 73.5; Coral Reef – 73; Krop – 65.5
Girls’ soccer regional semifinals
▪ Region 4-3A - Plantation American Heritage 4, Pembroke Pines Charter 0: Coach Cindy Marcial once again has her team in a solid position as the postseason moves along. The Patriots are once again in the regional finals after shutting out for the second time in two weeks. Gaby Scarlett, Sydney Waiters, Chloe Laureano and Emily Thompson each scored goals in the win, with Laureano and Thompson also adding in an assist each. Next up, Heritage will host North Fort Myers on Tuesday for a spot in the state semifinals.
▪ Region 4-2A - Cardinal Gibbons 5, Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy 0: The Chiefs are rolling as the postseason draws on. After pulling out a 3-2 win over Delray American Heritage to open regional play, Gibbons knocked off the defending state runner-up in Oxbridge with ease on Friday night. Maya Alicea was all over the field, recording a pair of goals to go with two assists to bring her team-leading totals to 14 and 11, respectively. Alysa Vazquez added a goal and two assists in the win, while Amy Bidwell and Brandi Orlando both had goals. Alexis DeVaux notched her 14th shutout of the year.
▪ Region 4-1A - Miami Country Day 3, Westminster Academy 0: The Spartans recorded their third consecutive shutout dating back to the district championships are now one win away from advancing to the state semifinals for a second consecutive year.
▪ Region 4-1A - Palmer Trinity 2, Archimedean 0: The Falcons have not surrendered a goal in four matches and are now a win away from advancing to the state semifinals for the second time in three years.
▪ Gulliver Prep 91, Marathon 83: GP: Sanders 21, Taylor 20, McWhorter 19, LaMonica 20, Perry 2, Patel 2, Schweitzer 2, Aixala 3, Valdes 2; MA: Qualls 32, Hernandez 27, McDonald 17, Roque 3, Campos 2, Rojas 2
.▪ Doral 75, American Heritage 41: DA: Carter 42, Nuñez 17, Pellerano 7, Lehrman 4, Mercado 3, Alawie 2; AH: Volmar 16, Morris 12, Olowekere 7, Jones 4, Tigner 2.
▪ Westminster Christian 70, Miami Country Day 27: WCS: J. Brown 16, M. Montavlo 14, J. Henderson 12, C. Bell 7, M. Laidler 7, DJ Taylor 6, JC Lezcano 3, N. Castaneda 3, N. Feria 2; MCD: N. Outten 9, J. Cooke 8, E. Mendelson 7, I. Kohen 2, M. Weisberg 1.
▪ Hillel 40, Yeshiva 38: HIL: Ben-Shmuel 9, Assraf 8, D. Abbo 8, Berkman 6, Bacal 4, J. Abbo 3, Gilbert 2; YES: Mammin 12, Rotenstein 9, Betesh 8, Lasko 3, Schulman 2, Lewis 2, Kahane 2; HIL 17-7.