This past weekend, the Hopkins wrestling team headed to Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. for the annual Centennial Conference Championship. The Blue Jays placed fifth overall, behind solid performances from junior Isaac Morales, junior Ricky Cavallo and freshman Dominick Reyes.
Morales secured the Centennial Conference Championship at 184 pounds this past weekend, dominating his opponents throughout the competition.
To start the opening round of the tournament, Morales faced junior Ronnie Wuest of McDaniel College. Wuest was severely outmatched by Morales, falling 9-0 to the eventual champ.
Morales went on a tear after that, pulling out a win over Ursinus College’s freshman Ben Maack by a 2-0 decision score. This set up a finals match with the No. 2 seeded sophomore Rexx Hallyburton from Washington & Lee University.
This was the closest match Morales had all tournament, but he was able to defeat Hallyburton 3-2 on a tiebreaker to clinch the Conference Championship. Morales took advantage of his years of hard training to be able to claim the third ever Conference Championship in program history in the 184-pound weight class.
“For me, a champion is the one who beats the best guy on his worst day. That requires a combination of preparation and conviction, and I try to always keep that in mind when I train,” Morales said.
The victory is the 23rd individual Centennial Conference title in Hopkins history. It also cemented the ninth straight year that the team has had at least one individual Centennial Conference champion.
Ricky Cavallo also had a stellar tournament, placing second in the 133-pound category. He entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and swept through the quarterfinals and semifinals with ease.
In his first match, Cavallo defeated freshman Matt Muller of Washington & Lee University in decisive fashion, racking up a 17-1 victory in the first round.
He carried that momentum into the semifinals with a 6-5 win over sophomore Austin Sherman of Muhlenberg College. From there, he was matched up against an undefeated sophomore Troy Stanich of Stevens Institute of Technology. Stanich proved too much for Cavallo, as he fell 6-2 to the No. 1 seed.
Other notable standouts from the tournament include Reyes and senior Lucas Escobar. Escobar battled through a tough 141-pound division to reach the third place game in a matchup against freshman Sean Thompson of Gettysburg College.
Escobar and Thompson wrestled twice earlier in the year, with both wins going to Thompson. In this tournament, however, Escobar was able to overturn their history and overwhelmed his opponent, securing a third place finish by a score of 8-6.
“[Escobar] has an intensity that always hypes everyone else up, and it was awesome to watch him win that match,” Morales said.
Reyes had a stellar tournament as well, finishing third in the 157-pound division.
His tournament started out strongly, scoring a win in a little over a minute against Gettysburg College’s senior Jake Bracken. He then took on senior Zach Wilhelm from Stevens Institute of Technology, who was ranked fourth in the nation at the time and had faced him three times this year.
“Every match has been closer than the last. This time, [Reyes] lost 5-2, but he got a beautiful takedown in the third period and dominated the end of the match,” Morales said. “It’s nice to see that, because that much improvement over a single season usually points to even bigger jumps in the off season, so we are all excited to see where he goes in his next three years.”
In addition, senior Christian Vallis went 2-2 on the day and finished fourth at 125, fellow senior Connor Joyce performed the same at 149. Both sophomore Nathan Wertheimer and junior Miles Gilliam went 1-2 to cap off the Blue Jays successful championship day.
Morales, Cavallo, Reyes and their teammates continue their season in a few weeks at the NCAA East Regional Championships.