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Judah Aybar had 191 takedowns this season!

Senior Judah Aybar of fourth-ranked Loyola wrestled while injured throughout much of his final high school season, which effectively ended last weekend as the Dons' grappler was winning his final career bout.


Ranked No. 1 by Legacy Wrestling, Aybar overcame a knee injury to score an 11-2 major decision victory over Gilman's fourth-ranked junior John Jurkovic for his first Maryland Independent Schools championship after having placed third as a junior.


Aybar's effort came a week after having beaten Jurkovic, 5-0, for his third straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament title. In victory, Aybar improved his record on the year to 32-1 and a career-record 105-12.


Aybar scored his single-season school record 191st takedown for the final points of his state finals match against Jurkovic, this, despite experiencing excruciating pain during the closing minute of the bout.



A seventh place finisher as a sophomore at The National Preps Tournament, Aybar suffered a high school career-ending injury in that last bout with Jurkovic. As a result, Aybar is not entered in this weekend's National Preps, which are being held at Lehigh University.


Aybar is a two-time National High Schools Coaches Association All-American as well as a two-time champion at both McDonogh's Ray Oliver Invitational and Stephen Decatur's War On The Shore.


Loyola's coach is Steve Truitt, a 1994 graduate of St. Paul's where he won two MSA titles after finishing third and fourth over the previous two years. Truitt went 34-1 as a senior.

Named Judah, from The Bible, which means, “Praise,” Aybar spoke to Legacy Wrestling for this Q&A.



Legacy Wrestling: When and where did you start wrestling?

Judah Aybar: I started wrestling at the age of four for Manchester. Then eventually went to the Warhawks Wrestling Club. I have also been actively training in Pennsylvania with Team Nauman.


LW: Have you won any junior league state titles, and if so, how many?

JA: While I was in junior leagues, I was a five-time champion and an eight-time finalist.


LW: What is the meaning and significance of your name?

JA: My father is Dominican and named me Judah from the Bible. The name means "Praise". And Jesus is from the Biblical Tribe of Judah.


LW: Is that a source of pride for you?

JA: That's something I take a lot of pride in. My parents have always had a strong religious influence on me. Within the sport of wrestling, it's just such a hard, difficult sport to get through.


It's extremely challenging, day by day. I wear that Jesus Training shirt for a reason. It's a part of who I am. To get through to the point where I am, I have had to go through a lot of these things.


LW: Will you wrestle in college, and, if so, where and what will be your college major?

JA: I am continuing my education and wrestling career at Clarion University where I will be studying Health and Nutrition as well as Exercise and Fitness.


LW: How does it feel to not only be an MIAA champion but also to finally be a private schools state champion?

JA: It is something that has been 15 years in the making. I did it for myself, and it was the dream my dad had for me. It was also important for me to win one for Coach Truitt. He has been with me through thick and thin and I thank him for that.


LW: How would you summarize your accomplishments at MIAAs, private school states and National Preps for each of your freshman, sophomore, junior seasons?

JA: In high school, I was a three-time MIAA champion, an MIS champion, a National Prep All American. I was a two-time Ray Oliver Tournament champion, a two-time War on the Shore Tournament champion and a two-time NHSCA All American.


LW: Can you characterize some of the obstacles you've overcome in terms of the injuries coach Steve Truitt referenced to me?

JA: This season has been full of adversities. We had been hiding the fact that I had two sprained MCL injuries with a possible meniscus tear. The plan was to brace and protect my knee in the postseason with my primary focus on that state title.


LW: Can you discuss how you were able to persevere throughout the injuries you encountered during your career?

JA: That was all this season. During the other seasons before this one, I was pretty healthy. But all of those injuries were happening throughout this season. It was basically as soon as one thing was healthy, another part of my body was hurt.


LW: How was your health leading into the final two weeks of the season?

JA: I had hurt my left leg two days before the MIAAs, but in general, for the MIAAs, I was feeling pretty good. When I put on that brace, I was feeling pretty strong.


LW: How good?

JA: On a scale of 1-to-10, I would say that I was feeling probably between 8-and-9 out of 10. I didn't hurt my right leg until the state finals, somewhere in the second period after I was ahead, 8-0, when I got taken down and I heard a pop in my knee.

After that, I was probably at about 6 or 7 out of 10 and I was just kind of coasting. I coasted, but I was able to score three more points on an escape and a final takedown to win by a major decision, 11-2.


LW: Can you talk in more detail about the second half of the state finals match, and how much resiliency you displayed?

JA: It was 8-0, and then, at the start of the third period, after he chose neutral and got a takedown, it was 8-2. It was on that takedown where he hurt me.


LW: What kept you going?

JA: There was no way I was going to allow that pain to stop me. I had been waiting almost four years of my high school career just to get one of those state titles. I had that adrenaline pumping. I wasn't going to let a bum knee, not even two bum knees, stop me from winning that title. Nothing was going to stop me.


So, it was 8-0 going into the start of the third period because he chose neutral and he ended up taking me down and making it 8-2. Then he cut me, and it was 9-2, and then I ended up taking him down to make it 11-2.


LW: At what point were you in pain?

JA: Honestly, I felt the pop in my knee, and I felt as if I could barely support my weight. But my mind wasn't going anywhere near acknowledging that pain at that point. It was just about pushing, pushing, pushing and trying to see how I could pivot on that knee and get inside for that last takedown.


LW: Is that when the injury happened?

JA: My right knee popped on his takedown. When he shot in and went to come out of the back to finish, my knee was draped over the back of his neck, and it popped. I fell to my belly and my leg was kind of aching. My coach was yelling, "you gotta wrestle here, you gotta wrestle here."


For a second, I was like, "I don't know, man, my leg feels weird." When he cut me, I went right up to my feet because I really didn't have a choice if I wanted to win that match, so I went right back at him. At that point, there was about a minute left, and I ended up getting that takedown and winning the match.


LW: What are your feelings about not being able to continue your season at this weekend’s National Preps?

JA: I feel sad about how I can’t compete in preps because I believed I had the potential to win the whole thing or to at least make the finals. It also sucked having wrestled my last high school match at states.


I did that without even knowing that it was my last. On the bright side I ended on a positive note with my having accomplished a long-time goal of mine, which is that of winning states. I could not be happier with the way I have competed.



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