The West Point Boxing Team started the 2011 boxing season full of confidence, with seven returning finalists from the 2010 National Championships, and all signs pointed to another title.
However, due to injuries and circumstances, the team went from seven returning finalists to three.
The coaches and boxers worked through the major setbacks, continued to be positive and trained in preparation for the 2011 National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships.
In the end, it all paid off, as the West Point boxers earned their fourth consecutive national championship by winning on their own turf April 7 to 9, at Eisenhower Hall, at the U.S. Military Academy.
The coaches said they felt the team would do well at regionals, but the boxers surpassed all expectations by setting a new team record of nine gold and three silver medals.
The team went into the national championships with a desire to win like never before.
The U.S. Naval and Air Force academies restructured their teams to take down West Point, but to no avail.
“We started this journey together, so let’s finish it, together,” senior and team co-captain Steven Henao-Escobar, told his teammates.
The other senior co-captain, Terrell Anthony, could be heard during early morning hours rallying his teammates.
“Let’s go fellas; we will not be denied,” Anthony said. “This is our house, this is our championship and no one will take what’s ours.”
Roadblocks lay ahead, however, as the first day of the tournament opened with the Black Knights losing two matches.
Suspecting his athletes were looking too far ahead, assistant head coach Master Sgt. Jeffery Mays told each boxer, “There’s no tomorrow without today. Fight hard and fight for now.”
West Point Boxing went into the second day of the tournament with 10 boxers, Navy also had 10 and Air Force eight.
The team racked up 38 points with nine boxers reaching the finals, Air Force had 24 points and five boxers make the championship bouts, while Navy pulled 23 points and put five boxers into the final.
Freshman Ethan Isaacson started the night for West Point with a second-round loss. Three-time defending national champion, senior Danilo Garcia lost on a 3-2 split decision.
Sophomore Langston Clarke fought a tough University of Nevada, Las Vegas opponent, a finalist at the national championships in 2010 and lost a decision.
Anthony turned the tide with the first win of the night for West Point, earning his third individual national title.
Needing only one more win to clinch the championship, Henao-Escobar secured the victory for West Point’s fourth national title.
With four more fights left, the coaches and boxers were unaware they had already clinched the title. They were confident they would win the remaining fight. Junior Ryan Johnson rewarded their confidence by defeating the returning national champion from Navy, 4-1. In the next bout, sophomore Jonathan Maddux fought a tough Navy opponent and lost the decision.
Sophomore Mikus Igaunis convincingly beat his Air Force opponent for Army’s fourth individual title of the evening. Junior Andre Shinda, who just started boxing this year, lost to the returning heavyweight champion from UNLV.
“This team has had to deal with so much adversity and hardship, but through it all they persevered,” Army Head Boxing Coach Ray Barone said. “I’m extremely proud of each and every one of them. This is a true testament that hard work does pay off.”
Source: Northwest Guardian