Young Hawks showing improvement on the mat


Viera High junior Gio Allen got off to a 14-0 start this season, including a perfect 8-0 performance in the 285-pound weight class at the Space Coast Viper Duals.

photo by carl kotala

More muscle. More speed. Better stamina. 

Those were all areas where Viera High junior Gio Allen thought he had gotten better coming into his second year of wrestling. 

But the real test came in his first match of the season when he faced a Melbourne High wrestler who had pinned him last year … and Allen won the match 8-1. 

“It was a realization that, ‘whoah, I’ve gotten that much better,’’’ Allen said. 

A regional qualifier last year, Allen’s goal is to go to the state tournament in the 285-pound weight class — and he certainly is off to a good start. 

At press time, Allen was 14-0 and coming off a championship at the Space Coast Viper Duals, where he went 8-0. 

“Gio has a chance to qualify for states,” Viera coach Jim Gentile said. “He weighs right at 275. He’s a strong kid, technically sound and this is only his second year wrestling.” 

Allen, who was an offensive lineman on the Hawks’ district championship football team, credited some of his improvement in wrestling to the work he put in during the winter break with former Viera wrestlers. 

Because he has good upper and lower body strength, Allen already was solid in the neutral and bottom positions. This year, he has tried to get better on working from the top position and has obviously been getting results. 

With only three returning wrestlers who saw significant action last season, four first-year wrestlers and several holes where they have to forfeit because they don’t have anyone in the weight class, the Hawks are admittedly in a rebuilding year. 

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have talent. 

Senior co-captain Jonathan Conlin (152 pounds) went 7-1 at the Space Coast Viper Duals while junior Jackson Allen (160) went 6-2 and co-captain Lou Fox (120) went 5-3. 

Other key wrestlers for the Hawks this season are junior Andy Saraka (195 pounds), sophomore David Akouka (145), sophomore Samantha Perez (106) and freshman Gavin Glover (138). 

If there is one weight class where the Hawks won’t have any trouble finding wrestlers, it’s at 220 pounds where Gentile can have his pick among Cade Van Wart, Gavin Roarke, Jacob Light and Nathan Mulberry, who went 5-3 at the Viper Duals. 

Viera will host this year’s Class 2A, District 13 Tournament on Feb. 13. This year’s state tournament is set for March 3 and 4 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. 

With so many young wrestlers on the roster, the Hawks definitely have the potential for a bright future. 

“We have a lot of young people that need to learn a little more,” Allen said. “But I think if they come back next year, we’d have a pretty good team.”