Viera’s Allen ready to make his mark at state wrestling finals
Viera High senior Gio Allen is 42-1 this season and headed to the Class 2A state meet, which begins Friday in Kissimmee.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
The moment Gio Allen has been waiting for is finally here.
The Viera High senior will take to the mat Friday and Saturday at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee for the Class 2A wrestling finals where he will match up with the state’s best.
“I’ve been waiting for this all year,” Allen said. “I’m very excited. I’m also very nervous. I’ve never been to state before, so I don’t really know what to expect.”
The 285-pounder has met virtually all expectations so far this season, winning his first 42 matches of the season before losing to Jeret Harvey of Jensen Beach by a 5-1 decision in the finals of the regional tournament.
“He got a lucky throw and he got three back points and then he basically stalled the rest of the match,” Allen said. “I should have kept going.
“… I got underhooks, but I didn’t really circle to them to open up the whole entire side of his body so I could grab his leg or take him down.”
Since that time, Allen has been working on improving his wrestling, even getting in some workouts at Heritage where he said he has been learning things about head position as well as some new “big man moves.”
That can only bode well for the Viera senior, who had his chance of qualifying for last year’s state tournament wiped out when he got stuck in traffic as the result of a car accident and was disqualified after he arrived minutes late for weigh-ins.
That was definitely not the case this year, as Allen made it to Jensen Beach High School on time along with teammates Nathan Stover (220) and Andrew Saraka (195).
Stover and Saraka were eliminated earlier in the tournament, while Allen powered his way through to the finals.
Ty Cartmell remains the only Hawk to win a regional and state title when he won the 189-pound division in 2011.
While Allen would certainly welcome a shot at making it two state championships for the Viera wrestling program, his main goal is to finish in the top six and get a medal.
“Qualifying for states at any weight class is a great accomplishment, but standing on the podium at the state tournament would be something special,” Viera coach Jim Gentile wrote in an email.
Allen’s first match will come Friday morning when he takes on junior Darius Stanley (17-8) of St. Augustine in his first match.
As long as Allen doesn’t get caught up in the fact he’s at the state tournament, and just treats it as another match, he should do well at the state meet.
And make no mistake about it, he’ll be eager to erase the memory of his loss in the regional finals.
“That definitely is going to make me hungrier at states,” he said. “A lot of people have said, ‘That’s your first loss. Now you can learn from it.’
“I definitely think that one loss is going to help me at state.”