Two Men’s Wrestlers Qualify for NCAA

For the first time in 14 years, the Sacred Heart Men’s Wrestling team will be sending wrestlers down to St. Louis, MO. for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships. Junior Joe Accousti and junior Nick Palumbo both qualified for the tournament at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championship on Feb. 26, according to Sacred Heart Athletics.

“It’s amazing. This is something that when you are a little kid you dream of and you look up to people who are national qualifiers,” said Palumbo. “To be able to be one, I literally can’t even put it into words.”

According to Sacred Heart Athletics, in the 2019-20 season, Palumbo wrestled nearly exclusively at the 149-weight class and posted a 13-8 record with a win in the first round of the EIWA championship tournament. This season Palumbo made the full transition to the 157-weight class, and finished with a 3-2 overall record in the regular season.

“His progression from when he was a freshman to now is unreal,” said Accousti. “He is probably one of the most dangerous wrestlers at his weight class in the country.”

Palumbo would go on to lose to Holden Heller of Hofstra in the final round of the EIWA championship, but this would be enough to qualify him for the NCAA championship as the number two finisher.

Number two, however, was not in Palumbo’s game plan.

“I definitely wanted to win that match,” said Palumbo. “For me it hurts a little bit so hopefully I will get to see him at nationals.”

In what was a shortened season, Accousti was bumped up to the 184-weight class and recorded a 3-2 overall record. He finished sixth at the EIWA championships, which allowed him to punch his ticket alongside Palumbo in St. Louis.

“I told him before the match I needed a roommate at NCAA’s, and that I didn’t want to room all by myself,” said Palumbo.

Accousti credits his progressive success at the collegiate level to fourth year head coach John Clark.

“He is the type of coach you want to work harder for,” said Accousti. “He’s been to nationals, he’s been an all-American, how do you not get better with someone like that coaching you?”

In Clark’s first season as head coach, the Pioneers were 2-10 and did not have any wrestlers place at the EIWA championship. This season, the Pioneers had six athletes place at the EIWA championship and two qualified for the NCAA championships.

“There’s a lot of ways to measure success in wrestling,” said Clark. “We’re looking to put all of that together next year. It is going to be powerful to see what these guys can accomplish.”

Being able to represent Sacred Heart at the national level is why both Palumbo and Accousti are proud to step out onto the mat in St. Louis.

“I’m really proud. It is an amazing thing to be representing Sacred Heart especially when you grow up close to it and you know past wrestlers here, as well as being coached by past wrestlers here,” said Accousti. “I’m honored.”

The NCAA wrestling championships consists of 330 student-athletes that have qualified from all over the country, all competing to earn the title of national champion. The first round of the 2021 NCAA wrestling championships begins March 18 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, according to

“I’m proud to wear that SHU logo on my singlet, and to bring notoriety to our school, and let people know we are on the come up,” said Palumbo.

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