Wrestling team holds on to second place in Centennial Conference

By GREG MELICK | February 1, 2018

B10_Wrestling

HOPKINSSPORTS.COM
Junior Isaac Morales leads the Blue Jays with nine straight match wins.

There was no rest for the Hopkins wrestling team this Intersession. The team got back from an almost month-long break to enter the meat of their schedule: Centennial Conference action.

Before the Conference matches started, however, the team closed out their tournament season at the Waynesburg Invitational. Overall, the team placed sixth out of 16 teams behind two third-place finishes and a fifth-place finish.

Junior Ricky Cavallo competed at 133 and made it all the way to the semifinals before falling to Nolan Wochna of the University of Mount Union. He won the consolation bracket to secure third place and a 4-1 record on the day.

Fellow junior Isaac Morales also had a strong performance. He competed at 184 and won his first two matchups handily before falling in the quarterfinals to Mount Union’s Isaiah Watson-Kirksey. Morales bounced back quickly, however, coming all the way through the consolation bracket to win and secure third place.

Freshman Dominick Reyes achieved a fifth-place finish behind a 3-3 record. The rest of the Blue Jays went 2-2 to give Hopkins its sixth-place finish.

The Jays’ first Conference match of the year was against the Washington and Lee University Generals at home as the first part of a doubleheader.

The matchup between the Generals and the Jays was close through the first four matchups, with Hopkins leading only 9-7. Hopkins would go on a run from that point, winning four out of the next five matchups to take a 25-10 lead. They would go on to win by a final score of 25-13 to open Centennial Conference play with a victory.

In the second leg of the doubleheader, Hopkins took on non-Conference opponent Penn College. An amazing performance from the entire Blue Jay lineup meant they won all of the first eight matchups to take an astounding 47-0 lead. Penn was able to win the last two matchups to get on the scoreboard, but the Jays improved to 3-0 on the season with the 47-9 victory.

The team’s next match was at home against the York College Spartans on January 19.

The match started out poorly for the Jays, as they lost the first two bouts to go down 6-0, but they bounced back with two straight wins by major decision to take an 8-6 lead. The Jays and Spartans would then split the next two matchups, but the Spartans won with a technical fall, so the score was tied at 11.

From that point on, the Spartans dominated, winning four out of the next five matchups to secure a 32-14 victory, handing Hopkins their first loss of the year.

The team’s next Conference meet pitted them against the Ursinus College Bears and the Muhlenberg College Mules. Coming into the matchup, the Bears had beaten the Jays 25 straight times. The last time the Jays beat the Bears in the matchup was in 1990.

The streak seemed destined to continue at the beginning of the match, as Ursinus jumped out to a 4-0 lead. But Hopkins quickly bounced back and won seven straight bouts, starting at 133 with Cavallo to guarantee themselves a victory. The 27-4 lead ended up being a 27-11 victory to break the Bears’ streak against the Jays.

“It obviously feels great to break that streak, especially doing so in front of the home crowd. Twenty eight years is a long time, so to be able to be on the team that beat them was a great feeling,” Cavallo said.

The Blue Jays rode the momentum of the victory into the second leg of the doubleheader against Muhlenberg. Hopkins jumped out to an early 16-3 lead after the first five bouts of the match. The Jays would hold off a run by the Mules to secure a 22-16 win to go 2-0 on the day and improve to 3-0 overall in Centennial Conference play.

Four Blue Jays went 2-0 on the day to help ensure the victories: Cavallo, Morales at 184, senior Connor Joyce at 149 and freshman Dominick Reyes at 157.

The Blue Jays’ most recent Centennial Conference matchup was this past Saturday, as they hit the road and headed to Lexington, Va. to take on the McDaniel College Green Terror and the Gettysburg College Bullets.

Hopkins started out strong against the Green Terror, using seven straight bout victories to turn a 3-3 tie into a 26-3 lead that eventually became a 26-12 victory. The matchup against Gettysburg was much closer, with the teams trading victories back and forth until the score was 14-13 in favor of the Bullets.

The Blue Jays could not complete the comeback, however, and they eventually fell 22-13. The loss was the first for Hopkins in Conference play, pushing their record to 4-1 in Conference and 6-2 overall.

Despite the loss to Gettysburg, Morales extended his personal winning streak to nine matches, and Reyes extended his to eight. The mix of upperclassman and underclassman performance has been a key factor towards the team’s success this year.

“The combination of new talent this year as well as the experience the upperclassmen continue to gain has really shined this season,” Cavallo said. “I could also feel this team’s chemistry from the very beginning. Everyone seems to be working better together and pushing each other more than in previous years.”

The final regular season matchup will be on Feb. 3 and will determine the final standings of the Centennial Conference. The Blue Jays will take on first-place Stevens Institute of Technology and fourth-place United States Merchant Marine Academy.

“At this point, we are all just trying to clean up the little things and stay healthy heading into the end of the season,” Morales said. “We are all hungry to pick up another couple of wins against Stevens and Merchant Marine, but the real focus is on sending some of us to Nationals.”

Following the last weekend of the regular season, the Centennial Conference Championships will take place on Feb. 10, and the NCAA Regional Championships will occur on Feb. 24 and 25.

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