Sentinel Staff Writer
Kissimmee Osceola finished second in Class 3A last year and has the depth and experience to give Miami South Dade a run for the title. A young Oviedo team should also find itself finishing in the top four in Class 3A. The second tier of teams includes Cypress Creek, Dr. Phillips, Olympia, St. Cloud, Timber Creek and Winter Springs all having the talent to finish high at the state meet.
The only returning state champion in the area is Osceola’s Pete Baldwin. The sophomore will share the stage this season with Kowboy teammates Levi Clemons (national champ this summer), Alex Eggers (two-time state finalist) and Gabriel Bird (three-time state placer and All-American this summer). Other local wrestlers who could find themselves on top of the podium in February are Winter Springs’ Matt Nereim, Oviedo’s Chase Gordon and St. Cloud’s Frank Cousins.
Celebration arguably has its best team ever while Hagerty will field its first senior class. Cypress Creek returns two state qualifiers and a district champ.
Don’t miss it
The Metro Conference championship (Jan. 31 at Timber Creek) could be won by as many as six teams — Cypress Creek, Dr. Phillips, Edgewater, Olympia, Timber Creek and University. Nine different states will be represented at the Zac Jarzynka (Dec 29 and 30 at Oviedo), one of the premier high school wrestling tournaments in the country. Kissimmee Osceola will host some of the best teams in the state at the AJ Jones Memorial (Jan. 9 and 10).
For the record
Oviedo holds the longest dual-meet win streak in the state with 70 straight victories. Barring injury, Winter Springs junior Matt Nereim should reach 100 wins by January. Daytona Beach Seabreeze’s Chris Ferritto is looking to become the school’s first ever state wrestling champ.
What they’re saying
Osceola Coach Jim Bird on his team’s success the past two years: “Once you start winning, your whole program starts believing.” . . . Timber Creek Coach Mike Weems on what it takes to win the Metro Conference: “It’s the ultimate team competition; you need to have 14 kids who can score points if you expect to win.” . . . St. Cloud Coach Matt Milton on the young Bulldogs: “We always have high expectations here and it’s going to be a little more difficult this season with only four kids returning that were on varsity last year.”