The Lions’ wrestling team etched their names in the MSJ history books this season with yet another HCAC Conference Title.
In the Conference Title match, the Lions’ started in a 12-0 hole to Manchester after being forced to take double forfeits in the first two matches due to a lack of wrestlers for those weight classes. The Lions’ bounced back and ceased Manchester’s momentum with victories from Luis Godines (So.), Nick Manning (So.), Tyler Ray (Jr.), and Nathan Islamovsky (Sr.).
It was tied 21-21coming into the final match, and the weight of a Conference Title was placed on the shoulders of Lion’s wrestler Wayne Black (Sr.).
“I was more nervous not knowing if I would even have a match, however when I found out that I would, I knew exactly what I had to do,” said Black.
Black won his match bringing a second consecutive Conference Title back to the Mount—that makes six Conference Title victories in the past seven years for the Lions’ wrestling program.
The Lions’ were led by their first year coach Dustin Baynes, who has a reputation for breeding national qualifiers as well as All-Americans. Baynes continued that reputation here at the Mount by sending two more wrestlers to Nationals: Sean Brooks (Sr.) and Wayne Black (Sr.). Black was named an All-American after taking eighth place at Nationals.
During an interview Joe Kammerer (Fr.) shared that Baynes began this season by reading his team the following lines from the poem “Ithaca” by a Greek poet Constantine Cavafy:
“Have Ithaca always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to give you wealth.
Ithaca gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.”
“What I took from the poem is to enjoy the road ahead, and that the end result isn’t nearly as important as the journey that takes place,” said Kammerer.
Baynes, who was described by his athletes as a “master motivator,” used this poem (that was based on the Greek myth, “The Odyssey”) to motivate his wrestlers. What a fitting way for the Mount St. Joe Lions to reach their “Ithaca” than to defeat the Spartans of Manchester.
When asked about his own “Ithaca” and whether he achieved what he set out to achieve despite adversity, Black said, “No, I didn’t get what I wanted but I got what I needed. The journey to placing eighth in the country was what I needed to learn about myself in order to make me a better person. Wrestling is a sport that requires perseverance and mental toughness in order to be successful. It is a sport that will eat you alive and spit you back out. It showed me how to balance things, to persevere through the good and bad times so that I can be successful in wrestling and in life. I am satisfied with my journey.”