Viera wrestlers, new coach poised for postseason

Viera High's Andrew Pinzone, shown here lifting his Rockledge opponent off the mat in an exhibition match earlier this season, has been having quite a year. In addition to pinning the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state, he pinned another opponent in seven seconds. A state quarterfinalist last season, Pinzone is hoping to get through the district and regional tournaments this month to get back to the state meet.

The coronavirus pandemic cut into their season, but that doesn’t mean members of the Viera High School wrestling team won’t be ready for the postseason.

“I think the ones on the team that are already working hard in practice, doing everything they can outside of practice, I think they’re already ready,” senior Andrew Pinzon said.

“I think we’re good. I don’t think it’s a question of how well we’ve been doing in tournaments. It’s about how well we’ve been doing in practice.”

Pinzon, a 126-pounder who reached the state quarterfinals last year, is one of several Hawks hoping to make a trip to the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee March 5 and 6 for the individual state championship tournament.

Braden Urso, another former state qualifier, missed the early part of the season with an injury, but is working his way back at 132 pounds. Senior Jackson Hatfield is a good bet to make it at 285 pounds, and sophomores Jaxson Crumpler and Nate Olson could find themselves in the mix as well.

Other key wrestlers for Viera this season include freshmen Derrick Davison (120) and Brennon Curtis (132); sophomores Jacob Porche (120) and Christian Pattison (220); and juniors Portia Priami (120) and Justin Feliciano (220).

As of early January, the Hawks had only taken part in four events. But new coach Erik Shea was having a big impact on his team.

“He’s great. He’s a character. Real tough,” Pinzon said of Shea.

“Tells you what you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear. He doesn’t tell you what to do. He just takes what you already do and just makes it better. I’m glad he’s part of the team.”

Pinzon is happy he’s back, too.

At one point, the senior was planning to give up wrestling, graduate early and go to college. Turned out, he missed wrestling and came back to the sport he loves.

Pinzon recently went 4-0 at a tournament in New Smyrna Beach, pinning the state’s No. 5 ranked wrestler in the process.

“I feel lighter on my feet,” Pinzon said. “My neutral game is a lot better. I can hand fight. I’ve got a fast shot. I’m quick off bottom. I’m funky off bottom (position). I like a lot of tilts on top. All-around, (I’m) just more explosive.”

Shea, who moved to Florida from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania last March is trying to generate new interest in the Viera program while stressing the basics.

“I like fundamentals,” Shea said. “It’s a cliché, but the basics are what I want them to get. Sadly enough, that’s position, position, position. I could show you 100 moves, but if you’re in a bad position, you’re going to lose.

“Being up there (in Pennsylvania) and going to all the Penn State matches, the better you get. … There are a few (physical) freaks … but the better you get, the better positioning you have.

“The very basics, if they learn that, they can compete.”