BY Robbie Finizio
The weekend of Nov. 8 marked the beginning of Sacred Heart’s wrestling season. The Pioneers had two team matches, one against Utah Valley, and the other facing off against LIU Brooklyn.
In their first match, Sacred Heart fell to the Wolverines of Utah Valley by a margin of 40-3. The only winner from SHU was redshirt sophomore Kyle Randall in the 125-pound match with a win by decision, according to shubigred.com.
“I think I brought the match to him,” Randall says. “I came out on top at the end after coming after him the whole way through.”
Sacred Heart’s second match up against LIU was much more successful. They secured a 26-12 win over the Sharks, with seven different weight class wins. Two of these wins came off falls, one of which from graduate student Brandon Levesque and the other from sophomore Kyle Davis, according to Athletic Communications.
The Pioneers are led by their head coach John Clark, who is entering his third year of coaching at Sacred Heart. Clark is excited about what this Sacred Heart wrestling team is capable of this year, considering how much new depth has been added to the roster, considering that when Clark began coaching, the team consisted of just 26 athletes. Now, there are 51 athletes eligible to wrestle this year for Sacred Heart.
“We have a lot of recruits, a lot of transfers,” said Clark. “We returned a lot of experience, plus brought in a lot of depth, so we’re really excited about our potential this year.”
Clark is also very excited about the recent hire of new assistant coach Will Switzer.
When asked about coach Switzer and the impact he generates being on the sideline, Clark said, “He’s done a wonderful job, most importantly the athletes really like him, he runs a great practice and he’s really good in the wrestling room both as a workout partner and a coach.”
Among the 21 new recruits, one of the biggest standouts looks to be Junior Joe Accousti, who transferred into Sacred Heart this past year from Appalachian State University. He was named a member of the Southern conference all-freshmen team, and had a two-season record of 31-18 according to appstatesports.com
“I’m getting adjusted really well, it’s a great school,” Accousti says regarding his changing of schools, “It was a good easy transfer process coming in from App State to Sacred Heart, the team was great.”
One of the best elements that this years Sacred Heart wrestling team brings to the table is the strong team chemistry among the athletes.
Graduate student Gerard Daly said, “I think it’s not really a team, it’s a family out here. I would die for all these kids; they are my brothers and I know they feel the same way about me.”
Daly racked up 34 takedowns, three pins and four tech-falls last year in a 12-win season.
Daly also excels in the classroom, earning him an EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) academic achievement award according to Athletic Communications.
“Having a room that all believes in him means we can all rally behind him, it’s really special,” said Daly.
“We haven’t had a national qualifier since 2007, that’s probably our first priority. We want to have a winning record as a dual meet team as well and we want to place a lot of people at the conference tournament,” said Clark.
The Pioneers will be back in action November 24th at the Keystone Classic at UPENN. Their first dual meet of the season will be against Binghamton on December 20th, at Binghamton.