Attending a service academy forms a bond and a brotherhood that few things can match. The members of the Army West Point wrestling team felt that bond break when one of their own, CJ Morgan, passed away on June 6, 2019 while training at the academy.
CJ grew up wrestling in West Orange High School’s Tarnoff gymnasium, battling his way to two county titles in that building. Morgan then chose to compete with Army Wrestling beginning in the 2016 season, compiling a 28-22 record at both the 184 and 197 lb. weight classes.
Now, Army Wrestling will return to CJ’s home town of West Orange, New Jersey to honor his memory. The Black Knights will face Lehigh on what would have been CJ’s senior night, an experience that already would have carried extra significance.
The team has already been wrestling with a CJ patch on their singlets for much of the season, but the decision to move senior night out of West Point actually came from coach Kevin Ward and CJ’s high school coach, Stephan Zichella. Ward ran it by the team to get their thoughts on the idea and let them decide. The decision took no more than five minutes.
In addition to the Black Knights moving their senior night to West Orange, Essex county moved to rename its Most Outstanding Wrestler award in CJ’s honor, the same place where he won two championships.
Wrestling is about more than the time spent on the mat. The bond between teammates, the effort to achieve greatness, and the lasting memories are what matters. Army’s senior night will have special meaning in West Orange on January 31 and a reminder of a cadet, teammate, and friend gone too soon.