This past weekend, two Blue Jays headed into the NCAA Division-III Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Senior Dominick Reyes made his third trip to the NCAA championships after winning his second consecutive NCAA Regional wrestling title, while fellow senior Hank Behaeghel became the first heavyweight Blue Jay to qualify after a third-place finish at regionals.
Reyes opened the weekend off in the 165-pound weight class with a 6-3 loss to Will Esmoil of Coe College after a gritty comeback attempt being down 4-0. He then headed into the consolation round, where he would face Cooper Pontelandolfo from New York University (NYU). There, he would be defeated 16-0 after a takedown and multiple back points.
Reyes finishes his season 24-2 and now ends his historic career off with a 110-26 record and the 2022 Centennial Conference Wrestler of the Year award.
Behaeghel, wrestling in the 285-pound weight class, also started off with a tough loss against Tyler Kim from Augsburg College. He stayed alive, however, by winning two energized matches to end the first day.
His first win came against Edwin Rubio of Ithaca College and second against The College of New Jersey’s Thomas Marretta, which secured him a top-eight finish and All-American status.
On the second day, Behaeghel lost 8-1 to Nico Ramirez from Southern Virginia University, falling into the seventh-place match, where he would end up losing to Lycoming College’s John Fulmer for an eighth-place finish.
Behaeghel finishes the season with a career-high 23-11 record and ends his career as only the ninth All-American in program history and the first Hopkins heavyweight to finish at the podium in the NCAA championships.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Behaeghel reflected on his record-breaking season and career.
“It was a pretty long season. I suffered a pretty bad injury — first meet of the year, I tore my shoulder that will need surgery later. So the season just kind of became about injury management,” he said. “I missed about eight weeks, which was frustrating as a competitor, but I had the support of my teammates and coaches behind me the whole time believing in me.”
Behaeghel also remarked he always thought of late teammate Bradlee LaMontagne’s “no quit, be a badass” mentality, which has helped give him the push he needed in times of adversity.
Additionally, he commented on his relationship with Reyes throughout his career.
“Dominick is my roommate. When we took the gap year together, we had a training plan. We were lifting together,” Behaeghel said. “He’s someone who pushed me to be better every day; I definitely could not have done it without him.”
Behaeghel added some thoughts on earning All-American status.
“It means a lot. It’s a testament to how difficult it is to achieve,” he said. “Having head coach [Keith] Norris and assistant coach [David] Kraus, who I am incredibly close with, stand on the floor in the corner for an All-American — it means a lot to get it done for those guys,” he said.
Behaeghel concluded with some parting words for his team.
“My team, I couldn't have done it without them. One of the main reasons I took the gap year was I knew we had a good team coming back and a good chance at winning a team title, and that's always been my goal here,” he said. “We came up just short, but the fact that we hosted conferences and we were in the position to win — it was the most special wrestling environment I've ever been in. And my coaches... without their belief [I] couldn't have done it.”