After the first period of Saturday’s 152-pound final, Gonzaga wrestler Billy Turner looked to the scoreboard and saw that he was trailing 5-0. He had missed nearly two months with a concussion, and the D.C. city championships at Gonzaga’s Carmody Center were just his fourth tournament since he returned. He’s still working to regain his form, but he didn’t want to close the event like this.
Turner started the second period with a cradle on his opponent then muscled his way to a pin in less than 30 seconds.
“I was just thinking, ‘I really hope I don’t lose this match,’ ” Turner said. “I don’t even know how I pinned him. I’m just happy I was back in time for the championships at the end of the season.”
But in the team competition, Turner’s triumphant return wasn’t enough to overcome the depth of St. John’s. The Cadets won nine of 14 weight classes to tally 243.5 points. The Eagles scored 193 to finish second; St. Albans (107.5), Wilson (96.5) and Georgetown Day (59) rounded out the top five in the nine-team event.
T.J. Stewart at 160 pounds led the dominant run by St. John’s. He pinned Gonzaga’s Matt Moschella in 52 seconds to take the title.
“I’m pretty good from my feet, so I just tried to keep moving as much as I can,” Stewart said. “Once I felt that he was breaking, after I got the first takedown, I was going for the kill.”
After Gonzaga took last year’s team title, Stewart admitted that reclaiming the throne was a priority. Throughout the day, he encouraged his teammates to stay motivated to get revenge.
“I wanted to make sure I help my team to win,” said Stewart, who was named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler. “So I had to pin everybody to give our team the points to win.”
Luke Kowalski was another fast finisher for the Cadets: It took about 45 seconds for him to pin Miles Harmon of St. Albans in the 113-pound final.
“I know my abilities, and I just go out there and have fun,” Kowalski said. “I feel like we worked really hard this year and we deserved to win.”
St. John’s now heads to the National Prep Tournament next weekend at Lehigh University. Cadets Coach Cam Watkins said that his wrestlers will compete in nine weight classes.
“There’s no secret to hard work. These kids put in the time, and a lot of them wrestled from March 1 of last year to now,” Watkins said. “Sometimes that’s what it takes to be successful at the next level, and hopefully things finish on a good note.”
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