On Jan. 30, the Sacred Heart men’s wrestling team held their senior day at the Pitt Center before taking on Franklin and Marshall College in their fourth dual meet of the season. Each of the 14 seniors that were honored received a framed red singlet as a reminder of the dedication they have put into the team.
The Pitt Center was filled with fans and fellow teammates all in support of the senior Pioneers. This atmosphere of support for the program is what Coach John Clark has been working on since he came to Fairfield in 2017.
“It was great because we had 14 seniors that were honored,” said Clark. “It was great to see the amount of people come and watch the match.”
One of the three winners of the day for Sacred Heart was senior Nick Palumbo. Palumbo pinned senior Christian Dailey to secure his second win in three matches.
“It helped that the match was at home, and it was senior night which helped me feed off the energy from the crowd,” said Palumbo.
Senior Anthony Petrillo acknowledged that his role as a senior and upperclassman is not just to wrestle, but also to be a mentor and leader to younger athletes on the team as well.
“I think having these types of leaders like us and other individuals on the team lead them on the right path,” said Petrillo. “We want them to realize that they should make the best decisions for themselves.”
From a recruiting standpoint, the men’s wrestling program has expanded exponentially as the team has brought in over 30 new members in this past year. Senior Connor Rossi has been witness to the growth of the team since joining, and he is optimistic that it will only continue to grow after he hangs up his singlet.
“We have all been here for four years, and we are always going to be Pioneers at heart,” said Rossi. “We just want to come back and look at the legacy that we left behind.”
If there is one element of the team that will stay close to the seniors’ hearts, it would be the wisdom brought to them by their head coach. Clark has been a mentor not only from a wrestling standpoint, but in all aspects of life.
“His love for wrestling really rubbed off on all of us, and when I first got here from Buffalo, I did not enjoy wrestling as much,” said Palumbo. “However, spending time with the coach and his love for wrestling made me fall back in love with the sport.”
The Pioneers will continue their campaign on Feb. 6 in Bloomsburg, Pa. as they face off against Bloomsburg University. The following week Sacred Heart will compete against Hofstra University on Feb. 12 in search of their first conference win of the year.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.