It’s always fun when several teams have a realistic chance at winning a Catholic League championship.

Of course, that’s not always the case. In fact, it has arguably become an anomaly. Football. Basketball. Lacrosse. Swimming. Track. Tennis. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion as to which two teams – or in some instances, one team – will add yet another plaque to their school’s trophy case.

Maybe that’s why this year’s wrestling playoffs were particularly exciting. Maybe it would be La Salle. Or Archbishop Wood. Or Father Judge. It was truly a three-team race.

That might explain the reaction to Father Judge’s exciting 32-25 Catholic League championship victory at Archbishop Wood Wednesday night, Feb. 3. The Crusaders erupted when the match was clinched.

“We have worked so hard for this,” said Judge junior Dean Jakeman. “If we didn’t win, it would have been hard to take.”

Jakeman, who lives a stone’s throw from Warminster’s Wood, notched an immense pin in the heavyweight bout. The win increased the Crusaders’ lead from two to eight with four bouts still remaining.

Prior to the heavyweight, Wood, which had defeated defending champion La Salle in the semifinals to reach the finals for the first time in 14 years, had battled back from a 15-point deficit.

“We really needed that, and Dean came through,” said Father Judge coach Jim Savage. “Every (bout) is so important. You have to get every point you can.”

From that point, Max Shaffer’s 10-5 decision at 106 moved the Vikings closer, but Tim McCall regained Judge’s momentum with a 9-1 major decision at 113. When Mike Metzger snared an 11-7 decision at 120, the Crusaders clinched the crown for the second time in three seasons.

“We didn’t want it to be that close, but we won the matches that we needed and did what we needed to do,” said Jakeman. “It’s great to be a part of this.”

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John Knebels can be reached at jknebels@gmail.com.