Cavallo, Morales Win NCAA Regional Titles, Blue Jays Place 3rd
By Ernie Larossa
Associate AD/Director of Athletic Communications
2018 NCAA Division III Southeast Region Complete Results
ROCKY MOUNT, VA - One day shy of the six-year anniversary of arguably the greatest day in Johns Hopkins wrestling history, the Blue Jays may have matched their elders with a stunning finish at the 2018 NCAA Southeast Regional Wrestling Championships. Putting one ahead of the other isn't necessary; for now, Blue Jay fans will simply enjoy the present.
Entering the second and final day of the regional championships on Saturday, Hopkins had seven of its 10 entries still alive and a run at a top five finish would be challenging, but possible. The Blue Jays had other ideas as they earned two individual titles, had three individuals qualify for the upcoming NCAA Championships, produced five place-winners and earned enough bonus points to finish in a tie for third place in the final team standings with 93 points.
Messiah easily claimed the team title with 147 points and York was a strong runner-up with 133 points. The Blue Jays came from 16.5 points behind Ferrum at the start of the day to tie the Panthers for third place with those 93 points. Traditional powers Lycoming (80 points) and Delaware Valley (76.5) were a distant fifth and sixth.
Cavallo and Morales Claim Individual Titles
Juniors Ricky Cavallo (133) and Isaac Morales (184) entered Saturday's semifinals on a mission to become the third and fourth regional champions in school history. Mission accomplished.
The top-seeded Cavallo beat Ferrum's Bailey Cooper, 6-3, in the semifinals and then drew second-seeded Hunter Harris of Messiah in the title match. Cavallo had topped Harris, 10-8, earlier this season, but this one wouldn't have nearly the same drama as Cavallo built a 5-2 lead at the end of the first period and then needed just 15 seconds of the second period to pin Harris and earn his regional crown.
To earn a shot at his title, Morales would have to top third-seeded Frankie Kruass of York in the semifinals. After topping Krauss, 9-2, during the regular season, he needed overtime on Saturday and, with the match tied at 4-4, worked an escape to score the decisive point. Facing another rematch in the final, he drew top-seeded Derek Beitz of Messiah - the same Derek Beitz who had beaten Morales by fall early in the season. Morales and Beitz battled into the second period with Morales holding a 2-1 lead when Beitz was forced to default due to injury.
Reyes Punches NCAA Ticket
Dominick Reyes became the third freshman in school history to qualify for the NCAA Championships as be placed third (top three finishers qualify for NCAAs). After slipping to the consolation bracket on day one, he needed to win three matches on Saturday to move on. A pin and two tight wins by decision later and he had secured his spot alongside Cavallo and Morales at NCAAs.
Reyes opened the day with a third-period pin of Delaware Valley's Anthony Snyder and edged top-seeded Hadyn Swartwood of Lycoming, 5-3. That set up a rematch with Washington & Lee's Shane Conners in the third-place match. The same Shane Conners who had dropped Reyes to the consolation bracket with an overtime win in the quarterfinals on Friday. For the third time in two weeks, Reyes and Conners needed extra time to settle their differences and this time it was Reyes who worked an escape to grab a 5-4 decision and grab bronze.
Escobar earned a win by decision in his first match, but was bumped to the fifth-place match with a loss to Zach Rainess. In the final match of his career, he drew Jacob Taylor of King's and spotted him a 2-0 lead before earning an escape and takedown of his own. He quickly worked Taylor to his back and stuck him with one second remaining in the first period to lock up his fifth-place showing.
Wertheimer started his day with a 13-8 victory over Wade Bishop of McDaniel before being dropped to the fifth-place with a 4-0 loss to eventual third-place finisher Colin Kowalski of Gettysburg. In the fifth-place match he scored a tough 4-2 decision over Ashton Gyenizis of Wilkes.
Morales improved to 36-9 on the year with his two wins. His 36 wins are tied for the most in a single season in school history. Paul Bewk went 36-3 in 2013-14.
Three is Second
The three NCAA qualifiers are the second most in school history. The Blue Jays sent five individuals to the 2012 NCAA Championships.
The third-place finish at this year's NCAA Regional Championships is the best in school history. The previous best was a seventh-place showing in 2013, the first year of the current regional system.
Cavallo, Morales and Reyes will compete at the 2018 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio on March 9-10.
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