Connor Moynihan has accomplished quite a lot his four-year career on the Grand Haven varsity wrestling team.
As a junior, he placed fourth in the state at 171 pounds while helping the Buccaneers as a team reach the Division 1 state quarterfinals.
As a senior, he’s accumulated a 34-2 record, and 26 of those wins have come via pins.
He pinned all three of his opponents on his way to winning an individual district championship this past Saturday, in the process securing the school record for pins in a career with 86.
Moynihan has committed to wrestle at Central Michigan University next year.
He’s reached goals many others would never dream of setting.
But in his mind, he still has a lot to accomplish.
“Last year, I ended up taking fourth, but of course, I wanted to take first,” Moynihan said. “I’m definitely gunning for first this year.”
Anything less won’t be good enough for a wrestler with a tremendous work ethic and a desire to always get better.
Moynihan said he doesn’t go looking for pins.
“I’m just trying to get better as I wrestle,” he said. “I’m not going out trying to pin guys right away. I want to work my takedowns, try to get better. Most of my pins come as my matches progress.”
Moynihan claims he doesn’t pay attention to rankings. If he did, he’d see that he’s the second-ranked wrestler in the state at 171 pounds, behind only Andrew Garcia of Detroit Catholic Central. Garcia won the Div. 1 state title at 171 pounds last year.
Before he can worry about contending for a state title, Moynihan and seven other Buccaneers’ teammates will have to work their way through Saturday’s individual regional tournament, which will be held at Grand Haven Fieldhouse.
“I’m just going to go out there and have fun,” Moynihan said. “I definitely want to go out there, get some more pins, get some more wins, and take first.”
Fellow Buccaneer senior Matt Mulcahy will also be gunning for a return trip to the state finals when he takes to the mat on Saturday.
Mulcahy started out wrestling at 189 pounds as a freshman, and remained there until he bulked up a bit coming into his senior season, when he moved up to 215.
Last winter, he reached the state meet, where he won his first match before losing the next two.
“I didn’t place, but it was still a really great experience, getting to walk out, look up into the crowd,” Mulcahy said of his trip to the finals last year. “It’s just a crazy feeling. Now I know what to expect. I’m anxious to get back and be a lot better this year.”
Wrestling is a unique sport in that, even when the team’s season comes to an end, individuals can move on. Last winter, the Buccaneers as a team advanced to the state finals — the first time in program history.
This season, the Bucs came up short in the opening round of the district tournament, a disappointing end to a promising season.
“It was a tough loss,” Mulcahy said. “I don’t think it was because of a lack of effort or anything like that. We wrestled maybe not as well as we could on that night, but I don’t think anyone didn’t give it their all.
“You give it all for the team, and after the team’s done, you’re still working with the team, trying to get better, trying to make them get better.”
Mulcahy is 33-3 on the season and ranked fifth among 215-pounders in the state. He said the biggest difference between this year and last is that he feels more confident in his abilities.
“I’m just more comfortable with myself, more confident in what I can do,” the Bucs’ senior said. “I feel like these four years have just flown by. It’s been a great four years.”
Other district champions for the Bucs were 112-pound sophomore Camden Bertucci, who is 37-1 on the season; and 160-pound junior Dakota Juarez, who boasts a perfect 38-0 record.
Additionally, junior Luke Avril and sophomores Antonio Reyes, Aaron Cummings and Chase VanHoef each advanced through the district tournament and will wrestle in Saturday’s regional event.
The top four in each weight class advance to the individual state finals, which will be held Feb. 28-March 2 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.