The month of December typically provides a key glimpse of what’s to come in the high school wrestling season.
Early-season tournaments – such as the annual Clash of the Titans event in Orange City, where Celebration High’s boys and girls teams were among this year’s participants – help set the stage for the crucial January stretch that now features the Florida High School Athletic Association dual team tournaments.
Like most FHSAA-sanctioned sports within the current school year, wrestling underwent assignment changes at the district level.
Celebration and Ridge Community are part of a reconfigured Class 3A-District 5 with Bartow, George Jenkins, Osceola, Plant City and Winter Haven. Celebration, Ridge Community and Osceola are the lone 3A-5 holdovers from last season as Haines City, Gateway, Lake Nona, Melbourne, St. Cloud and Tohopekaliga have either moved to different districts or are not currently fielding a varsity program.
Osceola is scheduled to host the 3A-5 dual team tournament on Jan. 8. The Kowboys, who will also host the individual bracketed district tournament as well as the Region 2 IBT in February, and Celebration squared off in the second round of the Class 3A dual team regionals last season.
Poinciana – which competed this month at Osceola High’s Danny Byron Memorial Invitational - is one of nine schools in Class 2A-District 5 alongside East River, Edgewater, Gateway, Harmony, Jones, Liberty, Groveland South Lake and Winter Springs. The Eagles were in Class 2A-District 6 for the 2018-19 season, which included Deltona, Daytona Beach Mainland, New Smyrna Beach, Pine Ridge and Seabreeze.
Celebration finished seventh (95.5 points) out of 18 teams at the 9th Annual Clash of the Titans IBT at Orange City University High, while the Storm’s girls wrestling program debuted at the event with five competitors.
Junior Eriknaldo Gonzalez recorded a pair of first-period pins en route to a runner-up finish at 285 pounds. Seniors Marquese Carter (195) and Kelvin Mamber (220) and sophomore Bruno Neira (170) all went 2-2 and placed fourth in their respective weight classes, senior Elijah Sankitts went 4-2 and came in fifth place at 160 and freshman Chase McBroom won three matches and finished sixth at 132.
Celebration, which will host the Storm Warning Duals on Jan. 25, was also represented at the Clash of Titans tournament by senior Viny Castro (126) and sophomore Jeremiah Cirino (138).
The Celebration and Poinciana boys teams were grouped together in the Gold Pool for last week’s St. Cloud High Bulldog Brawl, but results were unavailable at press time. The competition began Dec. 13 with a round-robin schedule as the Storm and Eagles also went up against Gold Pool counterparts Lake Mary, Vero Beach, Cocoa and Creekside.
Girls varsity basketball roundup
A couple of Class 7A-District 6 girls basketball programs – Celebration and Ridge Community – took the floor last Thursday (Dec. 12) in Osceola County. The visiting Lady Bolts raised their record to 4-1 with a 39-22 victory, while Celebration’s overall mark moved to 3-3.
Ridge Community was set to return home Monday (Dec. 16) against East Ridge – results were unavailable at press time – and will host Haines City this Friday. Ridge’s upcoming schedule also features a trip to Smyrna, Ga., for the 22nd Annual Campbell High Holiday Classic from Dec. 26-28.
Celebration continued its current homestand against Discovery High (Dec. 13) and Tohopekaliga (Dec. 17) before visiting Liberty this Thursday. The Storm will also be in the field for Mount Dora Christian Academy’s Cletus Stutzman Tournament (Dec. 20-21).
Ridge Community split a pair of road games prior to the Celebration matchup – a 51-47 victory over North Florida Educational Institute on Dec. 6 and a 63-53 setback to Lake Gibson on Dec. 10.
Celebration tipped off its December schedule with a 34-33 victory over Poinciana on Dec. 6 as senior Selina Rivera had 18 points – including two of the Storm’s four 3-pointers - and 15 rebounds. Four days later, host Osceola pulled away in the second half to defeat Celebration 52-24.
Elsewhere, Jasmine Edwards scored a game-high 24 points on Dec. 11 and Haines City returned to the win column on Dec. 11 by defeating Liberty. De’Nyisha Reynolds (20 points) and Jada Garbutt (14) also scored in double figures for the Hornets, who were coming off a 58-47 loss to Bartow the previous day despite Edwards’ 32-point performance.
Haines City brought a 5-3 overall record into a Dec. 13 game at Lakeland High, but results were unavailable at press time. The Hornets opened this week with home games against Poinciana (Dec. 16) and Windermere (Dec. 18) in advance of Friday’s trip to Ridge Community.
Haines City will also be preparing for an appearance at the 12th Annual Florida Prospects Christmas Tournament. The Hornets are in the eight-team Silver Division and open with Seminole at noon Thursday, Dec. 26, at Dr. Phillips High School.