It’s not quite at the level of winning a state championship, which Hopkins senior wrestler RJ Chakolis accomplished last March, but it’s pretty darn close.
In his first match of the 2021 season, Chakolis, wrestling at 220 pounds, defeated Lakeville North freshman Michael Anderson 9-3 to set a new Hopkins school record for career victories. It was the 158th victory in a career that started in sixth grade, when Chakolis was moved up to the varsity program while wrestling exhibition matches.
“I took some lumps, but it shows younger wrestlers what you can do with hard work,” Chakolis said after his match at Hopkins.
He won the Class 3A 195-pound individual title last March, which he said is still his proudest achievement in wrestling. He said his milestone victory Thursday was a close second.
“That feels great. I’m glad to get it over. I was nervous all day,” he said. “Nothing compares to winning a state championship, but this is right behind.”
Chakolis is also an accomplished football player, earning Star Tribune All-Metro honors as a linebacker this season.
He’s still undecided about his college choice but said he wants to “play football and wrestle in college. I’ll go where I have the best opportunity to do that.”
Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State and TCU are all in mix for his college plans.
The previous Hopkins record was held by Alec Agate and had stood for about a decade. Agate’s father, Derrick, is the current Hopkins coach and has been training Chakolis since he was in fourth grade.
“The sweet thing is that I got to see both of them set the record,” Derrick Agate said. “I knew from the beginning that if anyone was going to break Alec’s record, it would be RJ.”