Heading into Saturday’s dual meet against St. Paul’s, Broad Run senior Connor Bryant knew he was approaching a milestone.
If, for a moment, the shot at 100 wins ever slipped the 182-pounder’s mind, all he had to do was look behind him — where roughly 30 family, friends, and neighbors filled the Ashburn school’s bleachers, waiting to cheer him on.
“Before the match I was just focused and ready to go out there and get another win for my team,” said Bryant, who sometimes wrestles up a class to 195 depending on the matchup.
In his second match of the day, Bryant landed a takedown in the first period. In the second, his opponent opted for the down position. Bryant never let him up.
“I was able to get his arm back and turn him over with the half-nelson and get the pin,” he said.
When a giddy Bryant emerged from the mat, the first person to meet him was the woman he calls “Mom-mom,” his grandmother on his mother’s side.
She presented him with a hug and a t-shirt with the words “100 wins” printed on the back.
Bryant relished the moment, but took more pride in what happened next.
“Right after my [100th win], we started winning and pinning people consecutively,” he said.
While the century mark in victories is hardly unprecedented in high school wrestling, it requires consistency of its holders over a number of years.
“Reaching 100 wins in wrestling is such a huge achievement, because there’s just so many people,” Broad Run Coach JJ Totaro said. “You really have to wrestle for four years on a varsity squad to get there.”
Like many Loudoun County wrestlers, Bryant entered high school with little background in the sport, meaning the senior captain was forced to be a quick study. This season, Bryant is 26-9 for the Spartans (21-7).
“To come in without a lot of experience, that little league experience, and to put together 100 wins?” Totaro said. “It just shows the growth from the time that he’s put in. I just think about all the people he’s had to go against.”
Before freshman Eric Hong ever donned a Georgetown Prep singlet, he was ranked eighth nationally in his weight class by FloWrestling and 12th by InterMat.
Coach Mike Kubik had never seen the 120-pounder wrestle in person, but the question was never whether he would be good.
“I guess you just kind of wondered: How good is he?” Kubik said.
The answer: very good. While Hong has since slipped out of the national rankings, he has quickly cemented his place as one of the top 120-pounders in the area.
In consecutive weekends in late December, Hong (21-5) placed fifth at Beast of the East in Newark, Del., and took first at Mount Mat Madness, which is considered by many to be the top tournament in Maryland. He won the championship match against Brentsville’s Brenden Velez by technical fall, 19-3.
“He’s got to be one of the best freshmen in the country,” Kubik said. “The thing that I love about it is he’s not really flashy or anything like that. He just does everything right, and does it hard. . . . He’s very unassuming for as good as he is.”
Hong is not Georgetown Prep’s only impressive freshman, however. After missing the team’s first tournament with a back injury, 113-pounder Ethan Krause has gone 13-4, including a fourth-place finish at Mount Mat Madness.
“He’s very tough, very strong, but I think he was a little overwhelmed by the whole high school scene when he first got up here,” Kubik said. “With Eric, his improvement is going to be incremental. With Ethan, he’s getting better and better all the time.”
Rankings: Individual and Top 10 teams