|Johns Hopkins University wrestler Reid Mosquera of Andover is back on his feet, fully recovered from a prep school injury. (Will Kirk)|
Mosquera, Crystal lift Johns Hopkins
Reid Mosquera knew the target was on his back at Johns Hopkins. The sophomore wrestler from Andover was undefeated at 197 pounds against Centennial Conference foes.
But the former New England Prep champion at Phillips Academy was up to the task.
A pin and two decisions later, Mosquera was still unbeaten, headed to the NCAA Division 3 championship this weekend in La Crosse, Wis., and Johns Hopkins was basking in its best conference finish ever, a runner-up spot behind four-time defending champion Merchant Marine Academy.
“Being in the position I was in, undefeated in the conference and the top seed, I expected to win,’’ said 21-year-old Mosquera, who has compiled a 20-6 record.
“But I also knew everyone was coming after me. I had wrestled and beat everyone before, but the more you wrestle someone, the harder it is to win. You become familiar with each other and tend to know what the other is doing.’’
He needed a little over two minutes to pin Ivan Nedds of Muhlenberg College. Then he slipped past McDaniel College’s Will Yeo, , 8-7, before toying with Teddy Conrad of Ursinus College en route to a 20-10 decision — the most lopsided victory in any of the 10 title matches.
Mosquera sat out his senior year at Phillips after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament playing football. That injury, according to John Hopkins coach Keith Norris, was a factor his freshman season.
“If he lacked anything, it was his confidence, because he was coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss his last year at Phillips,’’ said Norris. “He had to overcome the fears of hurting it again. He not only had to overcome that fear, but had to adjust to competing at the college level. He did both, and this year every time he stepped on the mat, he knew he had a chance to win.’’
He’s 19-1 in his last 20 matches and of his six losses, four came against Division 1 and/or 2 wrestlers. His other two losses, both in Division 3, were against non-conference opponents and the fourth- and 10th-ranked wrestlers in the country.
“Things were pretty tough last year,’’ admitted Mosquera. “I had to wear a knee brace and at times it was weak and unstable. I was always worried about hurting it again. But things have been so different this year. The knee’s 100 percent and it’s something I don’t even think about. Winning the conference championship feels great, and I am looking forward to the NCAAs. If I train hard and have a good tournament, I think I’m capable of finishing among the top eight to earn All-American honors.’’
Johns Hopkins also has received a boost from freshman Duncan Crystal of Melrose, who finished third at 141 pounds after being thrust into the conference championships as a late replacement for injured teammate Henry Stauber. Crystal, like Mosquera, wrestled previously at Phillips Academy and he, too, was a New England prep champion.
Crystal (15-7 during the regular season) opened with a 51-second pin of Muhlenberg’s Jason Kirschenbaum to move into the semifinals, where he fell to second-seeded James Beshada of the Merchant Marine Academy. Crystal then worked his way through the consolation bracket with a 6-1 win over Elisha Gaylor of Ursinus and a 2-1 win over Mike Tancredi of McDaniel to earn his bronze medal. He finished his freshman season with an 18-9 record.
“He made the most of his opportunities and really helped the team,’’ said Norris. “We used him mostly as a utility all season, but we knew he was a solid wrestler. He came through when we needed him most.’’
Crystal said the “the hardest part of it all was the mental preparation.
“I wasn’t expecting to wrestle, so I had to change my schedule around,’’ he said. “But I made a quick adjustment. Physically I was ready, and once I got the first match out of the way, things felt pretty good. It was a great way to finish my freshman year. It was exciting to get into as many matches as I did and even more exciting to win as many matches as I did.’’
Meanwhile, Billerica High grad Ronnie Fusco also is headed to Wisconsin. The Springfield College senior standout captured the 285-pound title at last weekend’s New England championships held at Trinity. With his 3-1 win over Tom Foote of Williams, Springfield’s only individual title, Fusco propelled the Pride to the team championship.
Campus corner University of Massachusetts Dartmouth senior goalie Collin Tracy of Medford came up big in wins over Framingham State and Fitchburg State, stopping 55 of 58 shots, to help the Corsairs clinch the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title. The top seed in the conference tournament, UMass (18-6-1 overall) has won nine of its last 10 behind the sterling play of Tracy (2.21 goals against average, .922 save percentage). . . . Senior Judah Jackson of Everett led Bridgewater State to its third straight MASCAC tournament championship. Jackson averaged 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists and was chosen the tournament’s most valuable player.
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