Nate Overman (second from the left) placed fifth in the state tournament in the first week of March.

Coach Dennis Kitko has led the Bloomingdale High School wrestling team to the playoffs this season, finishing 20-5 overall in the regular season.

“I love that the small group I have left. All bought into the system of working hard and dedicating themselves to the sport,” said Kitko.

This season, Kitko coached two of district champions that he said wrestled all summer to prepare, which paid off in the postseason when they beat two great wrestlers to earn the titles. The district champions, Jose Milord and Nate Overman, placed third and second, respectively, in the county championships.

Both Milord and Overman advanced to the state championship the first week of March. Overman placed fifth and Milord qualified and won one of his matches as well.

“Others that performed well at counties were Aiden Smallwood, J.R. Singer, Jeremiah Sawicksy and Thomas Owen. We did qualify eight wrestlers at districts to the regional tournament, which is great,” said Kitko.

Kitko has been a wrestling coach for 26 years now and has coached the Bloomingdale Bulls for five of those. Last year, he was awarded Joel Medgebow Wrestling Coach of the Year and has coached three state champions throughout his career. The coach began wrestling when he was 8 years old and wrestled for Brandon High School and Cornell University.

“I’ve been coaching 26 years and can’t imagine a better way to help young people achieve success than wrestling,” explained Kitko. “It takes discipline, hard work and a dedication that you won’t find in many other sports.”

Bloomingdale’s wrestling team focused more on individual wrestling this year rather than team wrestling. Kitko said that his goal is to make each of his wrestlers a better person through teaching them good values in their training and practice.

“I love the sport of wrestling; however, it is more important that I teach great values that I’ve learned from Christ such as love, respect, kindness and humility to every one of my wrestlers. Making great wrestlers is good but helping to develop great human beings is true fulfillment,” said Kitko.

For more information on Bloomingdale High School athletics, visit hillsboroughschools.org/bloomingdale.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for The Osprey Observer and Christian Voice Monthly. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey since completing her internship. Lily plans to attend the University of South Florida and major in Communications while writing for The Oracle.