Connect with us


Pioneers prevail in hard-fought 17-16 opening day win over AU

Sacred Heart’s Dante Delbonis (top) picked up a key win Saturday to help the Pioneers to a 17-16 season-opening win over American. (Steve McLaughlin photo courtesy Sacred Heart University)

The Sacred Heart wrestling team found points up and down the lineup to beat American University, 17-16 on Saturday in the season-opening match for both teams at Bender Arena in Washington, D.C.

Sacred Heart’s Dante Delbonis (197 pounds) erased an early two-point deficit to score five unanswered points including a takedown with 12 seconds remaining to pick up a big 5-2 decision that gave the Pioneers a four-point lead with one match remaining.

Nick Palumbo (157) put his American opponent on his back with 40 seconds remaining to earn a major decision and pick up a crucial bonus point thanks to his 10-2 victory. At 174, Sacred Heart’s Scott Jarosz wrestled hard and earned a 10-2 major decision to also earn a bonus point for the Pioneers.

At 133 pounds, Sacred Heart’s Anthony Petrillo outlasted American’s Josh Bauman for a 3-2 victory.

Without the bonus points from Palumbo and Jarosz or victories from Petrillo and Delbonis, the Pioneers could have been staring at a defeat.

But the Pioneers wrestled with poise and picked up an opening day win for the first time since 2019 and just the second time since 2009.

The match began with American freshman Max Leete of Danvers, Mass., beating Sacred Heart’s Sean Faraon, 5-0, at 125 pounds but Petrillo tied the bout at 3-3 with his win over Bauman. Petrillo defended takedown attempts from Bauman for the entire third period to secure the win.

The Pioneers’ Jordan Carlucci (141) earned a 10-4 decision but at 149 it was American’s Jack Nies with a 7-2 victory over Shaun Williams, the graduate student from Danbury, that left the bout tied at 6-6.

Palumbo (157) led 5-1 in the third period but putting American’s Elijah White on his back to secure a crucial bonus point in his 10-2 victory to put the Pioneers ahead, 10-6. Individuals earn three points for a win but four points for a victory of eight points or more.

American’s Tim Fitzpatrick (165) picked up four points with his 16-2 win over Cole McGill to tie the match at 10-10 before Jarosz (174) regained the lead for the Pioneers with his 10-1 victory to give Sacred Heart a 14-10 lead.

At 184 pounds, American’s Connor Bourne outlasted Joe Accousti of Newtown, 2-1 to enable AU to cut the lead to one point, 14-13.

Accousti was penalized a point for grabbing headgear late in the second period to give Bourne a 2-0 lead. Accousti got an early escape in the third period but couldn’t come up with a match-winning takedown.

American freshman Carsten Rawls got an early 2-0 lead in his 197 pound with Delbonis after a scramble when Rawls tried to use a bear hug to bring Delbonis to the mat. Delbonis escaped and trailed 2-1 after one period.

In the second period, Delbonis rode Rawls for the entire period to grab a 1:26 lead in riding time. In the third period, Delbonis escaped with six seconds gone to tie the bout at 2-2. Rawls tried another bearhug takedown but this time, Delbonis was able to get control for a match-winning takedown with 12 seconds left.

The win gave Sacred Heart a 17-13 lead with one match remaining.

American’s Issac Righter outlasted Sacred Heart’s Mark Blokhn, 6-4 but it got tense in the final minutes because Blokhn was penalized four times for stalling in the match and one more stalling call could have disqualified Blokhn and given AU six points and the dual meet victory.

Three times, Righter drove Blokhn backwards off the mat, which is a stalling call in collegiate wrestling.

Tied at 4-4, Blokhn was called for stalling with 51 seconds remaining in the match, resulting in a two-point penalty and a 6-4 lead. But Blokhn was able get some takedown attempts and was able to finish out the match with an individual defeat but a team win for the Pioneers.

It was Sacred Heart’s first win over American since 2005. Immediately after the conclusion of the match with the Pioneers, American tangled with No. 28 Virginia and dropped a 33-5 decision.

The Pioneers return to the mat next Saturday when they travel to Manheim, Pa., to face No. 2 Penn State at 5 p.m. Sacred Heart will compete in the Journeyman Classic the next day in Manheim.

Sacred Heart 17, American 16
At Washington, D.C.

125: Max Leete (A) dec. Sean Faraon, 5-0; 133: Anthony Petrillo (SH) dec. Josh Bauman, 3-2; 141: Jordan Carlucci (SH) dec. Ethan Szerencsits, 10-4; 149: Jack Nies (A) dec. Shaun Williams, 7-2; 157: Nick Palumbo (SH) dec. Elijah White, 10-2; 165: Tim Fitzpatrick (A) dec. Cole McGill, 16-2; 174: Scott Jarosz (SH) dec. Ben Root, 10-1; 184: Connor Bourne (A) dec. Joe Accousti, 2-1; 197: Dante Delbonis (SH) dec. Carsten Rawls, 5-2; 285: Issac Righter (A) dec. Mark Blokhn, 6-4
Records: Sacred Heart 1-0, 1-0 EIWA; American 0-1, 0-1 EIWA

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

More in College