Maumelle captures state wrestling title

by Hunter Brooks

There’s a dynasty forming at Maumelle High School behind wrestling head coach Ed Viera.

The Maumelle Hornets wrestling team recently captured the Arkansas class 1A-5A state championship — its second straight state title in the school’s three-year history (state runner-up in 2012).

The Hornets dominated the field, posting a total team score of 352.5, which shattered the previous state record of 320. Bismarck (198) finished second, more than 150 points behind Maumelle.

“As far as the points at the state tournament, we knew going in that we had a good opportunity to break the old record of 320, but to break by over 30 points was beyond anyone on our staff,” Viera said. “We had a good idea that we had a great group of kids and we would dominate the 1A-5A classification, and that is why I scheduled mainly 6A-7A schools all season and traveled to get the opportunity to wrestle out-of-state teams. I did not think we would end up with a 15-1 record against the 6A-7A.”

Maumelle finished the state tournament with 13 medalists, 11 all-state selections and nine individual state champions.

Senior Justin Butler won the 160-pound weight class title, making him a three-time state champion. Seniors Cole Brainerd (126), Keion McVay (170) and Daniel Viera (182) and junior Malik Singleton (220) all took home individual titles, making them two-time individual state champions. Brainerd is a four-time all-state selection.

“This could be the best team ever in Arkansas,” Viera said. “I told the team before the championship round that they had a great opportunity. The same way their fathers talk about Michael Jordan and their grandfathers talk about Wilt Chamberlain, people will talk about this team. The same as LeBron James is the big name today, a team will come along and believe that they are the best wrestling team in the history of Arkansas, someone will say, yeah, but you are not the 2014 Maumelle team.”

Four seniors have signed letters of intent to continue wrestling in college, and more could be on the way. The seniors have been with the team since its inception in the fall of 2011.

Gabe Crumley signed with Central Baptist College in Conway.

“Gabe has improved greatly over the past three years, moving up to state runner-up at 195 pounds,” Viera said.

Keion McVay and Wille Wright both signed with Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge.

“Willie and Keion are great catches for (Williams Baptist) coach Regner,” Viera said. “Willie will be a great leader because of his work ethic and will be very successful at the NAIA level.  Keion, a two-time state champion, is the most athletic wrestler in the state, and it would not surprise me at all to see him as a collegiate All-American.”

Daniel Viera signed with the United States Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, N.Y.

“Daniel is also a two-time state champion and is going to study marine engineering,” Viera said. “He has a big frame, and I am sure he will end up wrestling at 197 pounds in college.”

Justin Butler and fellow senior Noah Hightower both have offers, but have not yet committed.

Although Maumelle will lose eight seniors from this year’s squad, Viera is confident in the underclassman heading into next year.

“It is going to be very difficult to repeat, but we had at least six underclassmen in the stands that would have medaled at the state tournament if we could enter more than one per weight class,” he said. “With that said, we may not have many champions next year, but we will compete for another state title.”

At the Meet of Champions, which sees the 1A-5A champions wrestle their counterparts from 6A-7A, Maumelle had four undisputed state champions. McVay, Viera, Singleton and senior Marcus Dennis (138) were all winners.

Maumelle is currently working with the National Federation of High Schools to see if the nine individual state champions and 352.5 total team points are national records.