Viera’s Pinzone fueled by desire to get to state wrestling tournament


Published:

Viera High School's Andrew Pinzone has worked hard to prepare himself for this season, which he hopes will lead to a spot in the state wrestling tournament.

Carl Kotala

Fueled by a desire to go one step further than he did last year, Viera High School wrestler Andrew Pinzone put in a lot of work during the offseason to prepare himself for the best season of his career.

“As a freshman, I had a tough bracket and I didn’t get to regionals,” the junior said. “(As a sophomore at) regionals, I had a tough bracket and I didn’t get to go to states.

“Now, I want to be able to beat anybody I go against, no matter the bracket.”

Pinzone, who was off to a 17-3 start, is one of the Hawks’ best bets to get to the state tournament this season. The district tournament is Feb. 21 at Melbourne, with the regionals scheduled for Bayside High School one week later.

It’s those kind of tournaments that the Hawks currently are built for, and where they should have the most success.

“Like in year’s past, we’re not a very good dual team because we’re giving up so many holes (in the lineup),” Viera coach Jim Gentile said. “We’re a way better tournament team. Our lower weights are solid.”

Starting at 106 pounds with freshmen Adam Walsh and Jaxon Crumpler, the Hawks also are strong at 113 pounds with freshman Dylan Quiroga, who has placed at several tournaments this season.

Viera has a couple of first-year wrestlers at 120 pounds in sophomores Joseph Shipman and Malik Murray. Pinzone wrestles at 126 pounds and his frequent offseason training partner —  sophomore Braden Urso — is at 132.

The Hawks also have senior Connor Kennedy at 182 and junior Jackson Hatfield — a returning state qualifier at 285 pounds.

“I expect Pinzone and Jackson to qualify for states,” Gentile said, noting it’s possible Quiroga and Kennedy can get there as well.

Pinzone expects it, too. His hard work is paying off to the point where when he was asked where his wrestling has improved the most, his response was simple: everywhere.

“I feel more fluid with my attacks,” Pinzone said. “I feel like I can attack from any position. My scrambling … sometimes I force scrambles in practice so I can be comfortable being uncomfortable.

“I can really catch opponents off-guard by doing some weird move that they’ve never seen before, but it’s something I’ve done a thousand times.”

With 25 wrestlers out for the team this season, the Hawks certainly are in a position to be excited not just about the current state of the program, but also its future.

“We’re at the point now where, with all those ninth graders, this is a great foundation,” Gentile said. “Some of those kids are going to get bigger, they’re going to get heavier, they’re going to grow.