Senior R.J. Chakolis, who rewrote the record book in Hopkins High wrestling, finished a 26-3 season by taking third place in the 220-pound class in the 2021 State AAA Tournament March 25 at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
Chakolis, who had won state at 195 pounds as a junior, lost a heartbreaking 3-2 decision by ultimate-tiebreaker to Osseo’s Jacob Meissner in the semifinals but then recovered to defeat Ethan Torgrimson of Sartell-St. Stephen 3-2 in the third-place bout.
“State was super exciting,” Chakolis said. “He [Meissner] and I both play football. He is quick and strong, and I had to slow him down.”
Neither wrestler had much of an edge in that semifinal match, and the same was true of the third-place match against Torgrimson.
There was also a close call in the state-championship match with Meissner handing Shakopee’s Tommy Johnson his first loss of the season, 5-3.
Moving from 195 to 220 this year, the challenge was different for Chakolis. There were times in his junior year when he had to cut weight to get down to 195. This year he worked out hard and had to make sure he was eating enough to stay close to 220.
Chakolis, who is also a three-time all-district linebacker and captain in football, finished his prep wrestling career with a school-record 184 victories. Early in his senior year, he surpassed the previous victory record set by Alec Agate.
Agate is the son of Hopkins’ head wrestling coach Derrick Agate.
“Coach Agate has been a role model for me,” Chakolis said. “He got me started when I was in fourth or fifth grade.”
“When R.J. started out, I coached him in the Hurricanes Club,” coach Agate recalled. “He is very likeable, very coachable and has an unbelievable work ethic.”
Agate marvels at Chakolis’ 184 wins. “That’s a record that should be around for a long time,” he said.
Some of the other head coaches who impacted Chakolis’ career are Pat Marcy, Al Price and Ben Tinkham. And, of course, the Godfather of Hopkins wrestling, Paul Bengtson, also inspired him.
Agate said it was a pleasure to head the Hopkins program this season.
“I have a great set of kids, who all made significant improvement,” he said. “They all came around to support R.J. The entire team watched the live stream of his state matches on Thursday. And that made me proud.”
While his high school wrestling career has come to an end, Chakolis will continue in athletics in college. He is looking at several football offers.
A middle linebacker for Hopkins, Chakolis said, “I will do anything to help the team I play for, whether it’s playing one position or being a utility player.”
Throughout his career, Chakolis has had the full support of his family. His grandfather, Richard Chakolis, was a high school wrestling coach. Parents Happy and Desma Chakolis were outstanding athletes and passed their love of sports along to R.J. and his sister Dlayla, who played five years of varsity basketball for Hopkins.
Coach Agate said the most heart-warming moment of the season for him was getting a big hug from R.J. after the senior captain took third at state.
“I am happy to have been part of R.J.’s success,” Agate said. “It has been a great honor to coach him.”