For the last 47 years, Christian Brothers Academy has been searching for a wrestler to be crowned an individual state wrestling champion. After all, a Colts wrestler has finished runner-up five times since Pete Black won the school's only title in 1969.
On Sunday in Atlantic City, Sebastian Rivera finally notched number two.
"The last time a CBA wrestler won, the photo was black and white," Rivera said with a laugh about Black's 1969 win.
The 113-pound senior used a wild comeback, followed by a dramatic pin with seconds remaining, to defeat Delbarton's Patrick Glory and win the state title.
While many will simply remember the pin as time slipped off the clock, the match wasn't all smooth sailing for Rivera. Glory, the number one seed at 113 lbs., made a statement right off the bat.
Glory took Rivera to his back in the first period of the match, taking a quick 4-0 lead on Rivera.
"My initial goal was to score first, but obviously that didn't happen," he said. "After he scored the first four points, I knew I had to stay calm and composed. I could feel him getting tired, so I knew I was better conditioned than him. I just stayed strong and on course."
The uber-confident Rivera didn't sweat the deficit, very simply because he knew he could beat Glory.
"I was still pretty confident, because I wrestled and beat him before," Rivera said. "It was in an offseason tournament, so it didn't help my seeding, but I was confident knowing I can push him to his limits."
With 36 seconds remaining, Rivera tied the bout at 5-5. About 34 and a half seconds later, he pinned Glory to become a state champion.
Rivera's win was the only pin over all weight classes in the state championships. He finishes the season with an outstanding 31-1 record.
Becoming the Colts' first state champion in decades, Rivera likens his victory to a dream, especially since his father won an individual state championship for Manasquan in 1987.
"It's obviously so exciting. I really hope this gets something going for the CBA program," Rivera said. "I hope more wrestling kids start to come to CBA now after seeing all our success. I think you'll start to see state champions coming out of CBA more often for sure."
Rivera knows that this win would not have been possible without the help of both his father and his coaches at CBA. Head coach Russell Witt could barely watch after Rivera got in an early hole, but he credits the CBA standout for having a game plan and sticking with it. Both Witt and assistant coach Dave Santamaria were ecstatic for Rivera when he won.
"My coaches were so proud of me and just happy to have been a part of the journey," Rivera said. "They have been so influential in my career and I think for us to have that moment together, that is so special."
This has been a special season for the CBA wrestling team as a whole. The Colts notched their first Shore Conference Championship, won their third straight District 22 title and sent five wrestlers to the individual state championships.
"It's been really awesome," Rivera said about his senior season. "To come to CBA and not be the best team right away, but then to see us develop this year into one of the best teams in CBA Wrestling history, that's remarkable. Plus, I got to share it with my best friends, so that's special."
Rivera will graduate in May and head to Northwestern University, where he will wrestle in the Big 10 Conference against some of the best teams in the country.
"Secretly, I'm already over this state title, my new goal is to become a college All-American," Rivera said. "That's my next goal, but I'm really just hoping to get a good education and that's why I picked Northwestern. I get to go to a great school and wrestle in the best conference in the country, I wouldn't have it any other way."