KISSIMMEE — Last winter, the Cleveland (Tenn.) Raiders spoiled the party.
The Raiders captured the inaugural 26-team Knockout Christmas Classic at Osceola High following the final heavyweight match, edging host Kissimmee-Osceola.
A year later, the tourney hinged on the 195-pound final, when third-seeded Dr. Phillips freshman Dylan Meeks edged top-seeded Osceola senior Ben Cruz, 3-2.
Had the Cruz decisioned Meeks, the Kowboys would have secured four critical team points.
Instead, Palm Harbor University lifted the championship trophy following the 29-team event.
Rounding out a tightly-bunched final four, Camden County, Ga. finished third (178.5) followed by Homestead-South Dade (177.0).
Palm Harbor University, last winter’s fifth-place Class 3A placer at the state finals in Lakeland looked at this weekend’s event as milestone win.
“I’d say this is the biggest win of my career,” said sixth-year Hurricanes coach Brad Sakevich. “This isn’t the state championship, but a good step in the right direction.”