This past Saturday, the Blue Jays wrestling team placed sixth out of seven teams in the Centennial Conference Championships in Allentown, Pa.
Sadly, this was a predictable finish after the Jays have lost every team event since the mid-winter duals, going 0-6 over the stretch with five losses to Centennial Conference rivals.
However, an individual bright spot on the season was junior Dominick Reyes, who is ranked top-10 nationally, winning the championship in his weight class.
Additionally, the team had four other wrestlers finish in fourth place in their respective divisions. Overall, Hopkins finished the championships with 30.5 points total. Washington and Lee University claimed first in the tournament with 75.5 points.
Reyes had placed second and third during his sophomore and freshman conference championships, respectively. This year he wrestled at the 165 weight class rather than the 157 he had previously wrestled at.
He finally got over the hump, defeating Washington and Lee senior Shane Conners 9-3 for the first place crown. Reyes caught a break because he did not have to face first-seeded Muhlenberg senior Dylan Schwartz who was upset on the other side of the bracket.
Reyes has been dominant throughout this year, individually going 30-2 on the season. This is the second time he has had a 30-win season, the first coming his freshman year.
He is one of three wrestlers in Hopkins history to have had multiple 30-win seasons (joining former teammate Ricky Cavallo) and one of four wrestlers in Hopkins history to win a championship in the 165 weight class.
Additionally, he helped keep the 11-year streak of at least one individual champion in the Conference Championships for Hopkins. Essentially, Dominick Reyes is really good at wrestling.
As for the four fourth place finishers, sophomores Bradlee Lamontagne and Joe Paul as well as senior Nathan Wertheimer all finished 2-2 on the day. Both of Wertheimer’s wins came by pinfall which is a feat in itself.
The last fourth place finisher was junior Henri Behaeghel who ended 1-2 on the day. This was Behaeghel’s first time back in action since Jan. 11. This was because he was again recovering from an injury much like he did all off-season.
This was after getting into a groove midway through the year and being on pace to have his best season. With two rehabs to go through this year, not to mention another one previously, it is impressive that Behaeghel still fought through to keep wrestling in the postseason.
Behaeghel elaborated on his experience recovering from his injuries.
“Starting off this year coming back from a second surgery was tough, but thanks to the athletic training staff and my coaches I was ready to go,“ he said. “Then hurting my knee pretty badly right as things were starting to click was a huge blow. But that’s how it goes. Sometimes you catch a tough break. It’s worth all the pain and rehab to come back because at the end of the day wrestling is a passion.”
He also expressed his gratitude to his coaches for helping him through the hard times.
“I’m extremely blessed that Coach [Keith] Norris and Coach [David] Kraus believed in me enough to bring me and wrestle for Hopkins,” he said. “Thanks to them I get to go out and compete in a sport I love everyday. That feeling is an unbelievable one that I’m fortunate enough to enjoy.”
It is a testament to the people on the wrestling team and its coaching staff that some of the wrestlers will go to such lengths for the sport and for their coaches.
Going forward, Hopkins will be moving on to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regionals on Feb. 28 and 29 at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. From the regional competition, the top three finishers in each weight class advance to the NCAA National Division III Championships. There, despite the team’s struggle, the best Blue Jay wrestlers will have a chance to shine individually.