With the high school wrestling season in New Jersey all wrapped up, a contingent of wrestlers from St. Augustine Prep headed south to Virginia Beach, Va., over the weekend.
But the Prep wrestlers weren't visiting the popular tourist destination to vacation.
There was work to be done.
James Brady, Ryan Lynd and Dillon Taylor and company were in town wrestling in National High School Coaches Association Nationals and didn't leave empty-handed.
The trio of underclassmen returned home as all-Americans after finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes.
"Honestly, it's a great experience," Brady said. "It feels so great to be able to call myself an all-American. All the work I put in all year during wrestling season and then to extend my season even more and become an all-American feels really great."
Brady went 5-1 in the grueling three-day tournament with wrestlers from around the country and finished third at 195 pounds in Sophomore Nationals.
He lost to eventual champ and New Jersey state placewinner Matt Correnti of Holy Cross in the semifinals, but bounced back with a 9-5 decision against Chad Freshnock for third place.
Freshnock was a runner-up in the Region 6 tournament and a New Jersey state qualifier from Middletown North.
"It just lets me know that I'm good enough to make it down to Atlantic City next year and try to make a run at the podium," Brady said. "I can't wait. I'm so excited."
Brady went 25-10 this season for the Hermits, who won the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference and South Jersey Non-Public A titles.
He reached the District 32 final and qualified for the Region 8 tournament.
New Jersey won the team title in Sophomore Nationals and Junior Nationals and finished second in Freshman Nationals behind Pennsylvania.
Lynd finished third in District 32 and was a Region 8 qualifier this season as a freshman.
"I guess we just wanted to keep wrestling," Lynd said. "We didn't really want to stop wrestling."
Lynd finished seventh at 220 in Freshman Nationals.
The NHSCA Nationals is one of the largest tournaments in the country. There were as many as 36 mats going at one time during the weekend.
"It was pretty cool," Lynd said. "But it was just wrestling. We just went down there to wrestle, that's all."
Taylor won 21 matches this season as a freshman but missed out on qualifying for regions by one match.
That's one reason he went to Virginia Beach.
"I didn't end the season like I wanted," Taylor said.
But he won three of his first four matches against wrestlers from Maryland, North Carolina and Washington state and went on to finish eighth in Freshman Nationals at 132 pounds.
"It was a great experience," Taylor said. "Being on that arena floor with the big crowd, it was great. It was a great experience."
Taylor said he plans on going back next season and his goal is simple.
"I'm going after first," he said.
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