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VMI wins seven of 10 bouts to top Sacred Heart in season opener

Sacred Heart’s Nick Palumbo, left, got a takedown with 17 seconds left to earn a 5-3 win in Saturday’s non-league bout with VMI. (Chuck Steenburgh photo courtesy of VMI)

The Virginia Military Institute wrestling team won the first four matches of the afternoon and took advantage of two forfeits to beat Sacred Heart, 30-9, in the season-opening match for both teams in Lexington, Va., on Saturday.

VMI (1-0) prevailed in seven of 10 weight classes to avenge a 21-point loss to the Pioneers a year ago.

The host Keydets had a 15-0 lead after four matches before the Pioneers earned a victory. Redshirt junior Nick Palumbo (157) got a takedown with 17 seconds left in the third period to extend his lead to three points and cement a 5-3 decision over sophomore Seth Fillers.

Sacred Heart’s Scott Jarosz (165) got a takedown late in the first period to take a 5-2 lead and dominated the remainder of the match in a 6-2 decision over VMI’s Jon Hoover.

Redshirt senior Will Schmidt (174) got a key takedown with a minute remaining in the second period to take a three-point lead and rode out the third period in a 5-3 victory over VMI’s Joel Diaz.

Schmidt’s win cut the VMI lead to six, 15-9 but that would be it for the Pioneers.

At 174 pounds, undefeated Zack Brown outlasted Sacred Heart junior Joe Accousti of Newtown, 4-3. The match was tied 3-3 after two periods when Accousti let Brown escape early in the third period hoping for a match-winning takedown.

But Brown, now 5-0, wouldn’t let Accousti get in position to attempt a takedown to secure the win. VMI picked up a pair of forfeits at 197 and 285 pounds to close out the match.

The match began with a dramatic bout at 125 pounds with VMI’s Cliff Conway earning his first win of the season with a 8-2 win over Sacred Heart’s Sean Faraon in OT. Faraon led 2-0 after two periods thanks to a first period takedown and a dominating second period. Conway forced OT with a takedown with 49 seconds left in regulation.

In overtime, Conway threw Faraon to his back for a two-point takedown and four near fall points.

At 133, VMI’s Luke Fegley got his first win of the season with a pin of Sacred Heart freshman Vincent Milazzo in 4:47. Fegley won an exhibition bout after the match was complete with another pin of Pioneer freshman Thomas Volpe in 2:01.

VMI’s Frederick Junko (142) shutout Sacred Heart’s Ryan Burns. 6-0 before Job Chishko (149) outlasted Sacred Heart’s Seth Brown, 4-2 thanks to a two-point near fall with 1:10 left in the match. Brown had a 2-0 lead after one period thanks to a takedown but Chishko tied the match with a takedown of his own with five seconds left in the second period.

Danbury senior Shaun Williams (157) wrestled in an exhibition match for the Pioneers and dropped an 8-6 decision to freshman Blake Showers. Williams trailed 7-0 before getting a third period takedown and throwing Showers to his back to cut the lead to 7-6. Williams let Showers go with 1:11 remaining but couldn’t get a takedown to win the match.

Sacred Heart (0-1) returns to action on Thursday, January 21 when they host EIWA rival Long Island University at 1 p.m. at the Pitt Center.

The Pioneers will be wrestling just five dual meets in this pandemic-shortened campaign.

VMI 30, Sacred Heart 9
At Lexington, Va.
125 Cliff Conway (V) dec. Sean Faraon, 8-2, OT
133: Luke Fegley (V) pin Vincent Milazzo, 4:47
142: Frederick Junko (V) dec. Ryan Burns, 6-0
149: Job Chishko (V) dec. Seth Brown, 4-2
157: Nick Palumbo (SH) dec, Seth Fillers, 5-3
165: Scott Jarosz (SH) dec. Jon Hoover, 6-2
174: Will Schmidt (SH) dec. Joel Diaz, 5-3
184: Zach Brown (V) dec. Joe Accousti, 4-3
197: Tyler Mousaw (V) forfeit
285: Robbie Adelstein (V) forfeit
Records: VMI 1-0, Sacred Heart 0-1
Exhibition: 157 – Blake Showers (V) dec. Shaun Williams, 8-6; 133 – Fegley (V) pin Thomas Volpe, 2:01

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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