Feb. 25, 2012
GETTYSBURG, PA - The was no margin for error as Johns Hopkins junior Reid Mosquera stepped onto the mat in the 197-pound title match at the 2012 Centennial Conference Championships on Saturday evening at Gettysburg. His Johns Hopkins teammates had put the Blue Jays in position to grab the first Centennial team title in school history by going 4-for-4 in title bouts heading into Mosquera's bout with top-seeded Connor McNamara.
Mosquera, the defending conference champion at 197, had already lost to McNamara this season - by fall ... in just 90 seconds. A win for McNamara would secure an unprecedented 10th team title for the Bears, who still had an entry in the finals at 285.
Mosquera made that match irrelevant.
Trailing 7-6 entering the third period, Mosquera started in the down position, but earned an escape in the first 30 seconds. Now deadlocked at 7-7 and with less than one minute remaining, Mosquera scored a quick takedown after a restart with 52 seconds left to go up 9-7, but McNamara worked his way free to draw within a point as the clock ticked down on someone's season and a team's title. Defensive, but firm as the clock wound towards 0:00, Mosquera closed out two championships - his own and Johns Hopkins' - with a takedown in the final three seconds to take the bout 11-8.
Stunningly, the Blue Jays had erased a 10.5-point deficit entering the finals to win the first Centennial Championship in school history with 79 points to 73.5 for the runner-up Bears. Stevens (64.5), Gettysburg (53.5) and Merchant Marine (48) rounded out the top five in the team scoring and Johns Hopkins head coach Keith Norris was named Coach of the Year after leading the Blue Jays to the title.
Five individual champions in five title bouts! Johns Hopkins had won 10 individual titles overall since the league was formed in 1994 before grabbing five on Saturday. Sure, the Blue Jays had placed a program-best second at the Centennial Championships a year ago, but wrestling without their starter at 133 and a heavyweight at least one weight class above where he should be, Hopkins figured to be a year away from challenging for the team title.
Ten wrestlers - and it took all 10 - had other ideas.
Freshman Paul Bewak jump-started Hopkins' record-breaking run with the individual title at 125 on the strength of a pair of wins. After earning the top seed and a bye through to the semifinals, he pinned Gettysburg's Abe Evans in the first period (2:01) before coming back with a third-period fall against Ursinus' Chris Donaldson (5:35) in the championship bout. He is JHU's first Centennial Conference champion at 125 pounds and improved to 27-7 with his two victories.
Junior Paul Marcello earned JHU's next gold with his third consecutive Centennial Conference title. After winning titles at 133 as a freshman and sophomore, he bumped up to 141 pounds this season and scored three wins by decision to earn his title. He edged Bernard Watson of Merchant Marine (8-5) and Mason Goretsas of McDaniel (4-3) to move into the final. There, he used a five-point move late in the second period to fuel a 7-1 win over Michael Polizzi of Stevens. Marcello is the first Johns Hopkins wrestler in school history to win three Centennial titles and the first to qualify for the NCAA Championships three times as well.
Sophomore Henry Stauber was the only Hopkins wrestler not seeded first or second to earn a title as he captured the 149-pound championship. Seeded fourth, Stauber opened with a first-period pin against McDaniel's Logan Yox (2:23) before upsetting top-seeded Connor McCormick of Ursinus, 3-1. In the final, he trailed 2-0 and 3-2 to Stevens' C.J. Caserta before scoring a late second-period takedown and an escape in the third period to fuel a 5-4 upset of the second-seeded Caserta. The win avenges a 5-0 loss Stauber had suffered to Caserta just two weeks ago.
Sophomore Matt Fusaro made it four titles in four championship bouts and set the stage for Mosquera's heroics as he claimed the title at 157. The number two seed, Fusaro opened with a technical fall victory over Merchant Marine's Mathew Hiltz (16-0) and added a 10-4 win over Richard Jasinksi of Ursinus in the semifinals. Matched against top-seeded David Dennis from Washington & Lee in the final, Fusaro used a six-point combination of a quick escape, takedown and three-point near-fall to take a 6-0 lead in the third period and then capped his title with a stunning pin at the 6:32 mark. Dennis pinned Fusaro earlier this season, but Fusaro's pin in the final today grabbed two extra team points for JHU.
The five individual champions grabbed the headlines with their stunning effort in the finals, but five other wrestlers also scored for the Blue Jays, who needed every team point they grabbed to win.
Junior Michael Koren went 1-2 at 133, but scored a third-period pin of NYU's Adlee Fayyaz in the consolation bracket, while freshman Christian Salera added advancement points in the consolation bracket with a 9-2 win over Andrew Corbett of Ursinus.
Freshman Travis Laska fell to eventual champion Ryan Dormann of Stevens in the first round, but added a gutty 3-2 win over McDaniel's Jacob Reik in the consolation bracket, while Ben Finelli, the only senior in the Blue Jay lineup, scored two decisions before being eliminated to add crucial team points. Freshman Evan Johnson added a 3-1 win over NYU's Daniel Brereton in his first match before falling to eventual champion Kevin Poplaski of Gettysburg.
With such a slim margin of victory, it's hard to determine what the deciding factor was for the Blue Jays. Sure, Mosquera's win ultimately secured the title, but that was one of five titles - his just happened to come last and against Ursinus. Long the dominant team in the league, on Saturday the Blue Jays had the Bears' number. Five head-to-head matchups all went to Hopkins.
Take any of those head-to-head wins away and who knows how the team scoring might have turned out. When it came down to the end - there was no margin for error.