By West Point Boxing TeamApril 13, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y., April 13, 2011 -- 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 championship. However, due to injuries and various other circumstances, the team went from seven returning finalists to just three.
The coaches and boxers worked through the major setbacks, continued to be positive and trained like champions 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 7-9, at Eisenhower Hall, here.
The coaches felt the team they assembled would do well at the 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.
Senior and team co-captain Terrell Anthony could be heard during the dark hours of the morning cheering on his teammates, "Let's go fellas, we will not be denied. This is our house, this is our championship and no one will take what's ours."
However, roadblocks lay ahead as the first day of the tournament opened with West Point losing two matches.
Feeling as if the boxers 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, while Navy also had 10 and Air Force had eight.
West Point quickly started to distance itself in the standings after the second day of boxing.
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 off the night for West Point. The fight was stopped in the second round with Isaacson taking the loss. Next up was three-time defending National champion, senior Danilo Garcia. Garcia lost on a 3-2 split decision.
Sophomore Langston Clarke fought a tough UNLV opponent, who was a finalist at the national championships in 2010. Clarke lost on a decision.
Anthony was 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-not knowing that they had already clinched the title-still felt confident they would win the remaining fight. Junior Ryan Johnson fought the returning national champion from Navy and beat him on a 4-1 decision.
In the next bout, sophomore Jonathan Maddux fought a valiant fight against a tough Navy opponent, but lost on a 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."