Stony Brook is no longer an afterthought in the collegiate sports world. A number of athletes have achieved both academic and athletic feats here at Stony Brook and freshman wrestler Connor Watson, 18, is among the young athletes who could further advance the rise of Stony Brook.
“NYU, Case Western, Johns Hopkins,” Watson listed the schools who spoke with him along with Stony Brook, adding in Columbia as a school also interested in his talent. To have those schools show interest in you is an accomplishment by itself, yet even with those schools being in the mix, Stony Brook was his choice.
Watson mentioned how the close proximity to home helped nudge his decision in favor of Stony Brook. What may seem like a surprise decision to some should only become more common in the years ahead.
“Ultimately, he decided to go with Stony Brook, so he’s kind of a guy that can open up gates for other people,” Head Coach of the Stony Brook wrestling team Shaun Lally said. “I think when he graduates here he’s going to be just fine in his career field because of what Stony Brook has to offer. I think he’s going to end up being a model of what we’re looking for and what high school kids can look up to.”
Watson graduated Chaminade High School last year finishing with an impressive 32-3 wrestling record. He compiled a list of achievements which include being a two-time CHSAA State finalist, a 2014 Catholic State Champion and earned a spot to wrestle at Public States in Albany.
“Winning Catholic States, MVP this year, and most improved player last year,” were among Watson’s proudest moments before being accepted into Stony Brook University, making him a Seawolf.
Looking toward the future, Watson hopes to graduate from Stony Brook with a major in biomedical engineering, although he hopes to enter into a pre-med track as well and attend medical school after graduation. His hope is to someday work on developing prosthetics and new organ growth.
For now, though, Watson is focused on wrestling and feels he has the chance to be a big part of the Stony Brook Wrestling team. His goal of being an All-American this year is a difficult one, yet is very realistic. This goal was kickstarted with a major success as Watson shined at a tournament this past summer, the first of many as a Seawolf. Watson beat three other wrestlers to capture the title for the 212 lb. weight class.
“He has a high wrestling IQ, he’s very intelligent, he breaks things down, and understands where he makes mistakes and where things can be improved,” Lally said. He’s easily going to be a national qualifier, definitely place top six in conference, I am hoping he could place top three and maybe make the finals and get down to Nationals and get some team points, win a couple matches and get as close to being All-American as possible.”
The sights are set for what Watson will be able to contribute here at Stony Brook. It seems like both he and his coach know what is ahead and what needs to be done to achieve his goal for this year.
Before a match or during training Watson likes to look up to his favorite wrestler for inspiration and motivation.
“The one guy I watch is named David Taylor,” Watson said. “He went to Penn State and he’s a two time national champ.”
Looking forward to the year ahead for the Stony Brook wrestling team, Watson feels good about where the team is and where they will be this year. With plenty of talent, the team should make some noise even though it is just starting out.
“It’s [the team] young because its only three years old, but last year they had three national qualifiers, two of them are returning and there’s probably going to be two or three more national qualifiers. So it looks good, it’s going to be a good season.” Watson said.
Hopefully the season can go as planned for the Seawolves. We should expect big things from Watson to lead his team to a big year. Like Lally said, maybe one day high school kids can look up to Watson and view him as a model for what they want to be going into college and beyond.
Correction: September 17, 2014
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Chaminade High School as Chaminade Catholic School.