Somerset Academy is in the driver’s seat.
Fresh off its first wrestling state title in program history at the FHSAA Duals in January, Somerset positioned itself well to capture its first IBT title at the FHSAA wrestling state championships on Friday at Silver Spurs Arena.
Somerset held an 84.5–77 lead on second-place Palm Bay after the first day’s action and pushed seven wrestlers into the semifinals which begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Finals are slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.
“We wanted to have 10 in semis, so we underachieved a little bit on our end,” Somerset coach Joe Blasucci said. “We want to win all of them but we need to have a nice round [Saturday]. We have a lot of head-to-heads with [Palm Bay] in the semis so there will be key matches. Our kids should be ready to wrestle and we will just see what happens.
“It would be tremendous to win both championships this year. I lost my dad [Vic Blasucci] this week. He was our team’s No. 1 fan, and I got to give him his gold medal when he was in the hospital. I know he is watching us.”
Somerset qualified 12 wrestlers for the finals with three seeking their second individual state championship: senior Skyler Caban (132), who won the 120-pound title in 2019; eighth-grader Bas Diaz (145), who captured the crown at 132 last year; and senior Sean Concepcion (182), who won the 182 title last year.
“[Diaz] is a phenom. Anything in his way, he just tries to run through it,” Blasucci said. “I do feel that all seven of them can win their matches [Saturday]. I absolutely believe that. [Caban] is just a goer. He shows up in this tournament. He won it [in 2019] as an underdog, and he just knows how to win.”
After being stunned a week ago at the regional tournament by rival Southwest, perennial power South Dade vaulted back on top of the 3A standings with 78 points, holding a nine-point lead on second-place Fort Pierce Central and 10.5-point lead on Southwest.
South Dade, winners of seven consecutive state championships dating back to 2014 and 15 overall, entered the tournament with 11 state qualifiers. Six of them qualified for semifinal action including Adrian Morales (113), Favian Oliva (138), Adrian Neco (145), Cordell Whie (152), Joshua Swan (170) and Sawyer Bartelt (195).
South Dade can also pick up crucial points when the third round of wrestlebacks begin after the semifinals. Still active are Luis Acevedo (106) and Creig Silimon (182).
Southwest, with a lofty 13 state qualifiers, advanced five into the semifinals, led by Daniel Martinez (120), Robert Dusendang (126), Sebastian Melguizo (132), Brandon Moreno (160) and Adrian Sans (285). Additionally, Southwest has Favian Oliva (138), Adrian Ochoa (152) and Brandon Moreno (160) alive in the wrestlebacks.
Also in 1A, Cardinal Gibbons advanced four wrestlers in the semifinals, including Nicholas Yancey (113), Matthew Palermo (120), Tyler Cabral (138) and Daniel Korchensky (160).
Mater Lakes qualified three for the semifinals: Dylan Garcia (113), Benjamin Rogers (145) and Ethan Vergara (285). Garcia and Yancey will go head-to-head in the semifinals.
“I believe [Yancey] is going to win the whole thing. He is focused,” Cardinal Gibbons first-year head coach Jamel Morris said. “We are looking good right now. The guys who were place-winners last year made it to the semis.”
Southridge entered the 2A competition with a regional title and six state qualifiers, however only senior Cyrus Williams advanced into the semis.
Additional semifinalists include: Columbus junior Christian Guzman (106) in 3A, Killian freshman Christian Vasquez (106), Southridge senior Cyrus Williams (152) and St. Thomas Aquinas senior Michael Moss (182) in 2A.
Palmetto Ridge (74) held a five-point lead in the 2A standings on second-place Charlotte and a 12.5-point on three-time defending 2A state champions Lakeland Lake Gibson.