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posted: 3/10/2014 7:33 AM

Bellis Adapts, Dominates as Freshman

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  • Jim Cummins

    Jim Cummins

Bill Smith, Harper College Hawks Sports Information

Coming into nationals, Harper freshman wrestler Jacob Bellis (/Bloomington) hadn't lost since Dec. 7, 2013, a period of nearly three months.

Bellis capped off an incredible 30-win season by going 4-2 at 125 pounds at NJCAA Nationals last weekend. He earned All-American honors with a seventh place finish, and he can now call himself the 16th Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Bellis choose Harper because he wanted to go to an Illinois school and heard good things about head coach Dan Loprieno and the Harper wrestling program. Making the transition from a more international, freestyle Greco-Roman way of wrestling to collegiate, folkstyle wrestling was a challenge, but Bellis adapted and got better as the year went on.

"Assistant Coach Pool helped me a lot to get my folkstyle back on track to be a good college wrestler," he said.

During his lengthy unbeaten streak, he compiled a 16-0 record, including a perfect 4-0 mark at the Art Kraft Memorial Open hosted by Triton College.

"He moves well and is very tough to beat," said Harper head coach Dan Loprieno. "He's still got a lot to learn but will be a big part of our plans next year."

When asked what he liked most about being on the Harper wrestling squad, Bellis quickly pointed to his teammates.

"The guys work hard, and they have their heads on straight," Bellis said. "Everyone's goal was to win the national championship."

The Hawks qualified all 10 wrestlers and placed 16th as a team at nationals, second among non-scholarship schools. With Bellis and other wrestlers returning, Loprieno thinks his team will be in the hunt again next year.

"I think he'll (Bellis) come out of the gate and look to have a really outstanding season next year," Loprieno said. "I would think his goal will be to win a national title."