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Hempfield grad climbing wins ladder at Johns Hopkins

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Hempfield graduate Paul Bewak competed at the NCAA Division III tournament March 15-17, 2013.

Paul Bewak is chasing quite a few accolades these days.

The Johns Hopkins junior and Hempfield graduate is on his way toward a bachelor's in physics and a master's in pure mathematics from the acclaimed university.

He's also well on his way to becoming the school's winningest wrestler.

Currently third on the all-time list with an 87-16 career record, Bewak has a chance to reach the milestone this season or, barring anything out of the ordinary, will become the record-holder next season. Ahead of Bewak are Eric Fishel, who set the mark in 2008 with 98 victories, and Tyler Schmidt, who ended his career with 92 victories in 2009.

The Blue Jays have 11 matches remaining, as well as conference and regional tournaments.

“It would be pretty cool to have the most wins for Hopkins,” said Bewak, who is 23-1 at 125 pounds this season. “I would just feel very accomplished because winning that many matches is no small task in college.”

Before he started climbing his way up the Blue Jays' all-time wins list, Bewak was winning with the same efficiency at Hempfield, where he had a 136-44 career record. He was a three-time PIAA place-winner and four-time WPIAL place-winner.

“I watched Paul in high school and knew he was talented,” said Johns Hopkins coach Keith Norris, who recruited Bewak. “I felt this kid could be big for our program. When he got to the wrestling room, he backed his talent up with a great work ethic.”

Upon arriving at the Baltimore-based university, Bewak was taken aback by the talent of his new teammates, including Fishel and Paul Marcello, the NCAA Division III runner-up at 141 pounds as a senior last season.

“I was very nervous about how I would fair in collegiate-level wrestling,” Bewak said, “but practicing with Marcello, a wrestler who has had a great deal of success in his career, and seeing that I could hang with some of the best, it showed me that I can do well if I kept working hard.”

For Bewak, wrestling and academics have become intertwined.

“It is a pretty big pain trying to balance academics, sports and down time here,” Bewak said. “Sometimes it seems almost unmanageable, but wrestling has taught me to just keep your head up, work your absolute hardest and things will turn out all right.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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