The wrestling team ended the Centennial Conference Competition on Saturday in a series of home meets where they faced Washington and Lee University, Stevens Institute of Technology and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Though the Jays fought hard, competition was tough, as the Jays lost all three matches.
The weekend opened for the Jays with a match against Washington and Lee. The Generals overcame the Jays for the second time in the last 18 times they have faced one another. The final score was 29-12. This, along with other performances for the weekend, places the Generals in second in Conference overall. Despite the loss, individual Jays brought home small victories. Standout matches include senior Ricky Cavallo’s dominant 13-2 performance against freshman Russell Zimmerman, sophomore Dominick Reyes’ impressive 19-3 victory against freshman Joe Salerno, and senior Isaac Morales’ 2-1 overtime win against junior Rexx Hallyburton.
Cavallo and Reyes repeated their winning performances against Stevens. However, this time seniors Dane Morgan and Miles Gilliam as well as sophomore Henri Behaeghel joined in winning action.
Morgan won by decision over junior Stephen Friedman 9-4. Behaeghel too won by decision against sophomore Joseph Moreno in the final spat of the day at 3-1. Gilliam overcame sophomore Bruce Parola 17-0 with a tech fall.
The Ducks began the day with a 17-3 lead, thanks to wins by the Ducks’ two nationally-ranked wrestlers. At 141 junior Troy Stanich is ranked first in the country and at 149 sophomore Brett Kaliner is ranked sixth in the country. Both of theses wrestlers won by pin for the Ducks, giving them the large lead they started the game with. The Jays refused to give up, though, fighting back to close the gap.
In the end, the Ducks clinched the overall victory with a narrow score of 23-20, preserving their 29-match Centennial Conference win streak.
Next, the Jays faced their final opponent of the weekend, the Merchant Marine Academy. The Jays started off strong with a 15-9 lead, but the Mariners slipped back into the scuffle and sailed away with the match from there. Reyes and Cavallo refused to concede a loss over the weekend however. Both pinned their opponents, sophomores Alex Puglio and Kieran Duggan, respectively, to tally winds for the Jays, Cavallo doing so in just 1:50. These wins extend Cavallo’s win streak to 12 and his overall record to 23-2 in this year alone. Reyes’ record on the year was pushed to 16-3 with the wins. Freshman Joe Paul also brought home a win with a solid 7-1 victory over freshman Austin Vincent.
The three-win weekend, with two of the wins coming via pin, led Reyes to being named the Centennial Conference Wrestler of the Week for the first time in his career.
After the weekend, the Conference results were set, the Jays’ record tying for fourth with Muhlenberg at a 2-3 (CC) record.
Over the course of the season, the Jays have faced many tough opponents. Many teams struggle or become discouraged at the thought of difficult competition. The Blue Jays however, do not. In fact, for Hopkins Wrestling, it is quite the opposite. Though they have not always emerged victorious, the tough competition (including against the nationally ranked York) has only made them better, according to Behaeghel.
“[Against York] we competed with one of the top teams. We had a lot of close matches, decided by a point or two, and if those go the other way we win the dual. It’s pushing us to reach our potential because we are right there with the best teams,” Behaeghel said.
The Jays have another opportunity to show how tough competition has grown their team. Feb. 9 will decide it all, as the Jays head to the Merchant Marine Academy for the Centennial Conference Championship.