Jan. 29, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Navy senior wrestling standout Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.) has been named the Naval Academy Athletic Association’s Athlete of the Week presented by Rolls Royce following his performance this past weekend that led Navy to a thrilling 19-18 victory over North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
With two bouts remaining and the match deadlocked at 15, Borja stepped to the mat knowing there was more at stake than just winning his match going into the home stretch.
“When the dual began to enter the final three matches, I realized that Zach Johnson or I would have to gain extra team points in our matches to make it more difficult for UNC to catch up,” said Borja. “Going into my match I knew that if I wrestled and competed like I am capable of, I should be able to get the major decision. Once I started wrestling, I got into a rhythm and kept the pressure on the kid the whole match.”
Borja jumped out to a 7-1 lead after the opening period against redshirt sophomore Christian Barber, but Barber, who came into the match with an impressive 23-6 overall record and a 7-1 dual mark, trimmed the lead to 7-4 heading into the final period. Borja, though, earned the escape to start the third and and it propelled him to a pair of takedowns and a pair of near falls en route to an 18-5 major decision and a 19-15 Navy advantage.
Borja’s major decision proved to be the deciding factor as classmate Zach Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) fell short in the afternoon’s final bout by way of a three-point decision to Jake Crawford.
“A team win, no matter the opponent, is always important to the program,” added Borja. “Not only in the sense that it betters our overall record, but also, it is an identifier on what we need to improve on as a team and as an individual. Dual meets such as this one show the coaches and the wrestlers who competed to their strengths and fell short to their weaknesses.”
While the regular-season is nearing its conclusion, Borja is still working towards the peak of his final year. The 2013 NCAA qualifier suffered a preseason leg injury that left him sidelined until the Mids’ Dec. 14 dual against Boston University in which he won 6-4. Borja has since competed in three additional duals, the Southern Scuffle and the Shorty Hitchcok Open and has amassed a 7-4 mark on the year.
“Being injured in the beginning of the season was frustrating due to the fact I was trying to carry the momentum I gained from last year into the first tournament of the season,” said Borja. “I worked hard all summer and preseason and having some of the hard work go to waste caused some annoyance. However, thanks to the trainers and the coaches, I was able to recover faster than expected and recover some of my season.”
Borja will look to keep the momentum in his corner this Saturday when he and the Midshipmen travel to New London, Conn. to compete in the 20th annual All-Academy Championship hosted by the Coast Guard Academy. Borja was one of seven Navy wrestlers to win individual titles at the tournament a year ago and four of the seven will return to defend their crowns.
“My personal goal is to win another All-Academy title and my team goal is the same,” said Borja. “This tournament should be a fun one because it allows us to wrestle Army before our highly anticipated dual and it also exposes us to some nationally-ranked wrestlers.”
Preliminary rounds of the All-Academy Championship are slated to get underway at 10:00 am at Merriman Gym in Roland Hall. The semifinals are slated for noon, the consolation semis at 2:00 pm and the championship finals at 4:00 pm. Admission for the day is $6 for adults and $3 for those ages 15 or younger. The finals will be streamed live via NavySports.com and uscgasports.com.
### Go Navy ###