Whenever Avon High School junior Joe Murphy is in wrestling practice or a match, he gives it his all, with a the words of Muhmmad Ali resonating in his head: "Imma show you how great I am!"
That mentality took him all the way to New Englands for his first time in early March during a tournament in Providence, RI.
The referee did not notice Murphy requesting a timeout after he banged his head on his opponent's hip, causing pain from his neck to shoulders, he said. He was pinned in the fourth match.
"So overall, I got seventh place for the New Englands, and in my opinion, yes it wasn't the best end to my season, but I can honestly say I tried my hardest and had one heck of a season overall," Murphy said in an email this week.
Murphy, who wrestles in the 170-pound weight class, won two matches that day, going until the end by decision in the first and 9-2 in the second before losing to a top Massachusetts wrestler 11-9.
Murphy has come a long way since he started wrestling at age 5 when head varsity wrestling coach John McLaughlin and some Avon fathers, including Murphy's founded Avon's youth wrestling club.
"With any other sport I play, it's more of a team effort; with wrestling
it comes down to my abilities," Murphy said.
The previous weekend, he placed second in State Opens.
"Even though I took second, I was proud of myself and couldnt believe all that I have done," Murphy said.
Newington's Chris Chorzepa, who he previously beat 14-7 at the Newington Duals in February, defeated him in the finals. That was Murphy's first loss of the season.
"In the first period, I was nervous and more defensive then I usually am,
where he got a quick 4-0 gain. Then in the second period, half way
through, he was up 7-0, but they had to stop the match for a minute due
to Chris's nose bleed."
When they resumed, Murphy said he was more aggressive and almost pinned Chorzepa twice. Yet it wasn't enough, and Chorzepa won 12-9.
That was after he pinned his first opponent with a "pancake" move, his favorite.
"It is when you are in front of your opponent and you hook his arm, and with other arm you cross his face and he gets to his back," Murphy said.
He beat an East Lyme wrestler 17-3 and won 5-4 in the semifinals against an Xavier athlete. That was tough because his opponent seemingly had been watching his previous matches, assessing his wrestling style, Murphy said.
"I wrestled more defensive because of that," Murphy wrote.
Murphy won the Class M title this year. He said he felt a sense of accomplishment.
"Right off the whistle, I started circling, setting up my shot, when I saw my opportunity, I took it and got my two points," Murphy said. "Through the whole match it was a neutral stand off, basically me and Matt wrestling from our feet. By the third period, I knew I had him because he started getting wreckless and just kept charging right at me instead of making any attempt at a good shot or takedown."
He earned the Outstanding Wrestler award at the NCCC Championship and the Lukasiewicz Award.
"It was an amazing feeling to go undefeated throughout the season, until the
State opens," Murphy said.
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