As part of our summer series, the Johnson & Wales athletics department is counting down the Top 10 stories from the 2016-17 school year. A group of staff members, coaches and student-athletes selected the best 10 stories from another great season of Wildcat athletics.
Here is #6:
Prior to the 2016-17 season, only one Johnson & Wales University wrestler had reached the finals of the NCAA Championships. Thanks to senior Stephen Jarrell and sophomore Jay Albis, that number has tripled.
Going into his senior year, Jarrell was on a mission to break Tim Ruberg's 2005 single-season takedown record of 223. He blew that mark out of the water, ending the year with 272 takedowns while leading all three NCAA Divisions with 18 technical falls.
The East Greenwich, R.I. native started his NCAA run with tech fall No. 18 against Olivet's Davon Jackson. He posted one-point victories against Nolan Barger from Lycoming and Baldwin Wallace's Anthony Arroyo to reach the finals. Jarrell and top-ranked Logan Hermsen were tied at 2-2 after three periods and went into overtime. Jarrell tried to spin around Hermsen, but he just clipped Jarrell's leg and got the deciding points with a takedown.
The coaches had high hopes for Albis during his rookie year, but it was cut short due by an injury. After splitting time at 125 pounds with two-time NCAA qualifier Bobby Jordan his freshman season, Albis bumped up to 133 pounds and was a wrecking ball.
Prior to nationals, Albis' only three losses came to top-ranked Troy Stanich of Stevens. Albis pinned Sam Bennyhoff of Augsburg then beat York's Ryan Flynn to set up a semifinal showdown with Stanich. Finally, it was Albis who came out on top as he beat Stanich, 7-6, to advance to the finals. The Fishkill, N.Y., native fought hard, but was pinned at the 4:48 mark by second-ranked Nathan Pike from NYU in the championship bout.
Both wrestlers ended the year with a school-record 46 victories and were ranked second in the country in their weight class. The heart and soul of the 2016-17 team, Jarrell's legacy will have a lasting effect on the Wildcats. Albis will go into next year as one of the favorites to win the 133-pound title.