By Cynthia Leota and Hannah Simpson
Hernando High School wrestling (1A) made history at the FHSAA State Dual Championships Friday evening against Palm Bay. Securing a 33-31 win, the Leopards earned a regional title, advancing them to the semi-finals. Hernando won five straight matches, with four coming by a pin and some of their youngest members giving jaw dropping performances in the end.
Savanna Valle (106) scored a fall with 30 seconds left in her match after being bumped up from the girl’s team to starting line up with the boys. Vitaliy Boyer (126) finished his match in overtime after a series of pins from his teammates. Boyer, a JV wrestler for most of the year, was bumped to starting line up for the State Duals, which favored the Hernando team.
Springstead High School wrestling (2A) held their own on the mat but fell short in the regional match up against No. 1 Lake Gibson, also the defending State Champions at 63-12. The Eagles had a pair of pins from Josh Gallo (138) and Pedro Class (195).
That following day, Hernando High School fought for the semi-finals against Zephyrhills Christian Academy but unfortunately fell short, leaving the score 45-32. Although the Leopards didn’t advance to the finals, some of their team members showed notable action. James Gadson had his 100th career win, Jordan Valle pinned after getting injured in the first period, Shaw Garret bumped up a weight class to get his pin, Kyle Pearson won by a dominant pin, and a decision win by Devin Williams.
Leaving the gym without a title didn’t seem to deter Hernando’s head coach. “I am incredibly proud of this team,” Pritz noted, after their semi-final match. “Unfortunately we came up short in the State semifinals but that doesn’t take anything away from what these kids accomplished this weekend. Back to work to continue chasing our goals.”