The Beacon’s Athlete of the Year tournament has crowned four champions, two men and two women, over the last two years. In the next few days, The Beacon will crown another set of champions.
The most dramatic matchup in the tournament’s short history did not come from contests between previous champions, but instead took place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. today.
A quarterfinal matchup between No. 11 RJ Rauh (men’s soccer) and No. 19 Moustafa Almeky (wrestling) does not jump off the page initially due to their seedings. But in the end, their final poll closed with the most votes – 724 – on a single poll so far in the 2020 tournament.
Almeky won the contest, which is voted on through a poll on Twitter, receiving 51.5 percent of the vote.
“I mean first of all, just wow. What a run for the both of us! I think that may be the highest vote count out of any other poll,” Almeky said. “The craziest part was that it was in three hours! I have a ton of respect for (Rauh).”
All of the polls throughout the tournament have been for 24 hours, but as Almeky pointed out, this one was just three hours due to automated or “fake” votes skewing the results in the original 24-hour poll.
After an emergency meeting with The Beacon sports editors an adviser Dr. Kalen Churcher, they opted to run the final three hours of the poll with a clean slate due to how close the voting was before the automated votes.
“We were actually texting each other the whole time about how wild all of this was,” Almeky said. “(Rauh) was very understanding about the tampering, just like you guys, which I was very thankful for.”
The shortened poll did not affect friends and family showing up for either athlete, as they sat neck-and-neck for almost the entire three hours and compiled hundreds of votes.
“I guess we both knew going in, it was going to have to be a whole lot of votes in not a lot of time, so we got to work,” Almeky said. “I think this speaks for how much the athletic community, and each of our friends and family can really come together to support one another – even if they don’t know the person.”
As a 19 seed out of 24, Almeky has been a true Cinderella story in the bracket this year.
He upset No. 14 Mark Mullins (men’s basketball) in the Opening Round, and then took out No. 3 Michael Gurska (men’s ice hockey), a second team All-American and First team UCHC defenseman for the men’s ice hockey team.
“I owe a big thank you to my friends, my extended family, my Wilkes family and, of course, the wrestling community for coming together to make a very fun match and get me to the semi-final,” Almeky said. “Good luck to my next opponent – team Almeky is coming!”