Two years ago at the Maumelle all-sports banquet, wrestling Coach Ed Viera made the announcement that the first state championship for the new Maumelle school would be a wrestling one.
That statement came true over the weekend as the Hornets captured the 1A-5A state title by 93 points over Beebe. Last year, they finished runner-up and two years ago were 7th. With a 36-2 record, Viera knew his team had a great shot at winning the title.
“We would have had to have a total meltdown to lose,” Viera said. “During the season, we had only lost to Cabot and Catholic (Little Rock, both 6A-7A schools). We had a big enough lead going into the championship round that there was no way we could lose it.”
The Hornets won four state titles, had one was runner-up and five third-place finishes. All 10 of those guys receive all-state honors. The four champions are junior Justin Butler in the 138-pound division, junior Daniel Viera in the 152 division, junior Keon McVay in the 160 division and sophomore Malik Singleton in the 195 division. Willie Wright was runner-up in the 145-pound division. Placing third were juniors Adam Nevarez in the 113-pound division, Cole Brainerd in the 120 division and Keon Quince in the 285 division. Sophomores Andrew Menchaca in the 106 division and Taylor Humphrey in the 126 division were also third.
Viera was honored as the Coach of the Year by the Arkansas Wrestling Association. In the 1980’s, he was an assistant at Hialeah High, Fla., right outside of Miami. With years of experience as an assistant, he was never a head coach until the program started at Oak Grove four years ago. During that first year, the program had to be cancelled because of not enough participation. The next year, he recruited guys from the pre-AP and honors classes because he knew they would have the work ethic and discipline to compete. That season Viera’s program at Oak Grove finished seventh before that school closed and joined with Maumelle.
“Those freshmen at Oak Grove are now juniors,” Viera said. “The core of our team is juniors. The sad part is that a lot of our second guys could have medaled at the state tournament.”
Next up for the state titlists is the Tournament of Champions in Russellville on March 9. The winners from the 1A-5A weight divisions will compete against the winners from the 6A-7A division. Viera is also hoping his seven guys invited to the Brut Nationals in Independence, Mo. next month will get the opportunity to attend.