For one bout, it seemed the entire crowd at the District 12 Class 3A tournament Saturday had chosen to root for the same side.
Raucous cheers from teammates, fans, and coaches reverberated around the gymnasium at Archbishop Carroll High School for South Philadelphia's Miles Lee, who was competing in his first-ever district tournament.
The junior transfer from Palumbo gave the Public League its most emphatic championship victory of the afternoon, a 6-3 decision in the 195-pound class over La Salle senior and three-time district champion Anthony Piscopo.
Lee, who was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament, has been no stranger to success in his first year on the mat, but he's been waiting a long time to prove he can compete with Philadelphia's best.
"I've been wanting to show people since last year that I could compete at this level," said Lee, who owns a 21-0 record. "I'm really blessed and really happy that I got the chance to do this, and I'm really honored."
Although the day was won by the Catholic League, with Archbishop Wood finishing first at 159.5 points and the Catholic League winning 10 of the 14 championship bouts, the Public League showed major signs of improvement from years past.
Of the 70 wrestlers who advanced to regionals by placing in the top five for their weight class, 32 were from the Public League.
"Public League really stepped it up," said Archbishop Wood coach Chris Meister. "Beat The Streets is really helping the city teams out, and you're starting to see that it's really starting to pay its dividends now for the league."
Established in 2009, Beat The Streets Philadelphia provides funding and resources for youth wrestling and several high school programs in the city, such as South Philadelphia, Martin Luther King, and Mariana Bracetti Academy.
Bracetti took home two of the Public League's four championship victories, a 20-7 major decision at 145 pounds by Ronald Palmer and a pin (in 1 minute, 29 seconds) at 170 pounds by Edwin Morales.
Despite last week's anticipation, Bracetti freshman Tatyana Ortiz did not compete against a Catholic League wrestler in her first-round bout because of a seeding change. Ortiz, who injured her shoulder at practice Thursday, wrestled two matches and lost both.
"We told her the whole time we were here today that she didn't have to continue if she didn't want to," said Bracetti assistant coach Max Tanenbaum. "But she was just very determined, and she wanted to wrestle no matter what."