Miami-Dade County teams hit the trifecta three times this winter season.
Three boys’ soccer teams – Belen Jesuit, Ransom Everglades and Scheck Hillel - won state championships in the same week for the first time in county history.
South Dade continued to dominate the wrestling world, winning its third consecutive state title.
And Miami Country Day continued to make history as Dade’s first girls’ basketball team to win three consecutive state championships.
Coupled with some teams on the rise in several sports and a first in competitive cheerleading, the county transitioned well from another strong fall season.
The schools that scored the hat trick for Dade boys’ soccer each celebrated the first state championships in their respective schools’ histories.
Belen (30-0-2) won the Class 4A crown, Ransom (24-4) took home the Class 2A title in what was its first appearance since 1979, and Scheck Hillel (19-0-1) secured the Class 1A after making it to state for the third time in four seasons.
Belen was led by star forward Frankie de la Camara, whose 59 goals were second all-time for most by a Dade player in a single season.
Wolverines’ coach Tanger Mendonca, a 58-year-old native of Rio de Janeiro who played pro soccer for 16 years in Brazil and Venezuela, steered them to a title in his ninth season at Belen.
The Wolverines ascended to as high as No. 8 in the national rankings behind the potent scoring tandem of De la Camara and Tavish Rice, also the kicker on the football team and headed to Princeton.
Ransom Everglades had not been to the state finals since 1979 when their coach David Villano was a senior standout on the team. Villano waited over the three decades, but finally got the chance to celebrate the school’s first state title in the sport.
Ransom ended the season on a 12-game win streak, outscoring its opponents 52-5 during that stretch led by a balanced attack and another multisport star in Michael Colonna, who scored 24 goals. Colonna also plays volleyball and football.
Hillel’s graduating class had laid the foundation for one of the county’s best programs, but had not been able to celebrate a state championship until this season.
Founded in 1973, the Hurricanes had not advanced beyond the regional semifinals in any sport until its soccer team went on its current run.
Senior Netty Silberman led Hillel on a dramatic run through the Class 1A playoffs that ended with a shootout victory in the state final against Maitland Orangewood Christian.
▪ South Dade had four individuals win state championships as it made its way back to the top for the 11th time, which ranks second all-time only to Brandon High. It was also the third time the Bucs won three consecutive state titles.
Balmeceda, who has coached South Dade to all 11 championships, watched as all four of his wrestlers in the finals, Elijah Varona (106 pounds), Ozzy Lugo (145), Chei Hill (195) and Kyron Taylor (285) complete a clean sweep by winning individual state titles.
▪ Miami Country Day’s girls made it look downright easy throughout another state championship run.
Country Day trails only Dillard and South Broward (each of which have won four in a row) in terms of consecutive championship streaks by South Florida teams. Jacksonville Ribault owns the state record with five in a row.
Miami Country Day, which won the Dick’s Sporting Goods National tournament, last year as well, also tied Miami High and Miami Monsignor Pace for the most state titles in county history.
And it figures to continue with four starters returning.
▪ St. Brendan has been putting up solid performances the past few seasons at the state cheerleading meet. This year, the Sabres finally broke through to win the county’s first state title since it became an FHSAA-sanctioned sport.
▪ Aside from the triumphs, there were some heartbreaks.
The Norland boys’ basketball team’s run of four consecutive state championships came to an end courtesy of Fort Lauderdale Dillard.
The Ferguson girls’ basketball team lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer in its first trip to the state final four. But the Falcons, an underclassmen-laden squad should be a contender for the next few years.