Senior-laden Hawks hope to contend for CCC title


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Viera High's Caleb Harris is expected to contend for a state tournament bid this season. Here he is defeating his opponent from Cocoa Beach. Photo by Carl Kotala

It’s not hard to look at the wrestlers Viera High has at the lower weights and see why the Hawks figure to be pretty strong this season.

From Gavin Johnson at 120 pounds, to Darius Darr at 126, Aron Mahl at 132, Jonathan Conlin at 138 and Caleb Harris at 145, the Hawks have five experienced wrestlers lined up to give their opponents fits.

“That’s a good, meaty lineup right there,” Viera coach Jim Gentile said.

With senior Josh Henderson (182) and football players Mike Brunotte (152) and Blake Ward (285) also on board, the Hawks have a chance to contend for the Cape Coast Conference title again if they can solidify their lineup.

“We have five or six solid guys right now from last year and then we have a lot of holes [to fill] with new guys,” Gentile said.

Senior Ronnie LaMacchia, a first-year wrestler, will go at 195 for Viera this season. Also new to the sport are sophomore Lou Fox (113) and senior Anthony Darienzo (160).

Sophomores Daniel Henderson (152) and Andy Saraka (160) wrestled on the JV team last year and should also contribute. 

Darr, who went to the Class 3A regionals last year and came within one victory of qualifying for the state tournament, believes the fact that the Hawks have nine seniors on their roster will give them a big advantage, much like his freshman year when Viera won the CCC title.

The Hawks have struggled in the two years since that title, but those days are likely over.

“When I was a freshman, a bunch of seniors graduated and we had to kind of re-start the team from the bottom up,” Darr said. “Now, we’re kind of back at the top, and I would say we have a chance of winning Cape Coast this year because we have a lot of seniors who have been here since freshman year.”

Darr, a senior, said he and the other wrestlers got together twice a week during the summer to keep themselves sharp for this season. After coming so close last year, there is no question what his individual goal is.

“I want to go to states this year,” he said. 

Gentile believes Darr, Johnson, Conlin, Harris and Mahl all have a shot at ending Viera’s two-year drought of sending wrestlers to the state tournament.

Viera will be competing at the 2A level this season and figures to get stronger as the year goes on.

“We’re definitely not where we want to be right now, but with the guys we have in the room … they’re liking the sport,” Gentile said. “They’re going to get better. As a coaching staff, we’ve just got to push them.”