The Maumelle Hornets put together a completely dominant performance in the 1A-5A Wrestling State Championships over the weekend.
Out of 14 weight classes, the Hornets had nine wrestlers win state championships while easily winning the team competition with 352.5 points. Bismarck was second with 198 points. In the 6A-7A championships, Little Rock Catholic won with 255.5 points.
While almost every Hornet had an outstanding tournament, 145 pounder Noah Hightower was named the Outstanding Wrestler for the middleweights while running through his competition for the state title. Hightower won his first two matches with pins, tossed a quick 15-0 shutout in the semifinals, then won the championship with another easy pin.
In the 106 division, Andrew Menchaca finished first by pinning all of his opponents. Cole Brainerd (126) won another state title with a sudden death championship win in overtime. Brainerd came in as the No. 4 seed despite having defeated two of the wrestlers above him. Brainerd is also a four-time All-State wrestler.
Marcus Dennis (138) won his state title with two pins; a 9-2 decision and a close 4-3 win in the finals.
Willie Wright (152) showed why he Williams Baptist signed him by pinning each of his opponents quickly in a first place run.
At 160 pounds, Justin Butler was unstoppable with three pins to get to the finals, where he won an easy 18-2 tech fall.
Keion McVay, a 170 pounder who also signed with Williams Baptist, finished his dominant year 47-1 with a pin, a 22-6 tech fall and another pin in the finals for his second state title.
Daniel Viera gave up just two points on his way to the 182 state championship. Viera won his first two matches with pins, then took the semis and finals with 4-1 scores.
Malik Singleton (220) was Maumelle’s heaviest champ, winning his first match by forfeit, then pinning his next three opponents.
Gabe Crumley (195) came in as the runner-up in his class, losing in the finals to Brandon Zini of Central Arkansas Christian. Zini finished the year 25-0 and was named the Outstanding Wrestler among the heavyweight classes.
At 132, Taylor Humphrey lost his second match, but came back with a pair of pins in the consolation bracket to finish third in state.
Bret Sherkenbach (120) had a loss in the championship rounds to be sent to the consolation bracket. He finished fourth after coming up just short in the third-place match.
Adam Nevarez (113) was on his way to the third-place match, but some bad luck put him in the fifth-place match, where he grabbed a win.
Trent Johnson (285) lost his final two matches, but contributed points to the Hornets’ massive team total by pinning his first opponent.
The coach of the year award was given to Maumelle head coach Ed Viera, who was quick to share the credit with his assistant coaches Tony Brainerd and Blake Butler. Brainerd and Butler are typically the coaches in the wrestler’s corner during matches.
"They are more knowledgeable than I and they volunteer their time, so I am willing to allow them to do what they enjoy," said Viera. "They are both integral parts of this program, and our success is an attribution to their participation."
Most of the Hornet champs are seniors this year and will be giving way to a new crop of varsity wrestlers next season. But that doesn’t mean a three-peat by Maumelle is out of the question.
"The rest of the state believes that our run of state championships is over," Viera said. "They do not know what we had sitting in the stands."