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Sacred Heart to challenge Iowa in November in Albany

Sacred Heart will face Iowa for the first time in November in Albany, N.Y.

A year ago, the Sacred Heart men’s wrestling team met eventual national champion Penn State last November before a sellout crowd of more than 1,200 fans in Manheim, Pa. It was Sacred Heart’s first match against a top 25 team since 2018.

Sacred Heart will continue that tradition of challenging opponents this November.

The Pioneers will face Iowa on Friday, Nov. 18, in Albany, N.Y. The Hawkeyes finished the last season as the No. 3 ranked team in the country and finished second at the NCAA Division I championships behind Penn State.

It’s part of a stiff schedule that will challenge the Sacred Heart wrestlers in the early days of the 2022-23 campaign.

“When you say you wrestle the best and then you do, then it’s not lip service,” Sacred Heart’s sixth year coach John Clark said.

The Pioneers open the season with a meet at Lehigh, who was ranked No. 26 in the final Division I poll before the postseason began, on November 5. After wrestling at the Journeyman Classic with bouts against Long Island University and Army, the Pioneers will wrestle Iowa for the first time in team history.

Two days later, Sacred Heart will be in Philadelphia for the Keystone Classic.

On Dec. 2-3, the Pioneers will travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational that includes six teams ranked in the top 25 last February – No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 16. Purdue, No. 19 Minnesota, No. 24 Oklahoma and No. 25 South Dakota State.

“It’s a tough schedule to start (the season) for anybody,” Clark said.

Iowa went 14-1 a year ago with five All-Americans under head coach Tom Brands. The Hawkeyes have won 24 national titles with the most recent coming in 2019. While the Hawkeyes graduated several seniors, the Iowa lineup remains formidable. Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy (74 kg or 163 pounds) and Tony Cassioppi (125 kg or 275 pounds) each recently won U23 freestyle national championships at the U.S. World Team trials.

It will be Iowa’s second match against a New England school in program history. The Hawkeyes beat Yale, 37-0, in the 1968-69 season.

In last November’s match against Penn State, the Nittany Lions prevailed over Sacred Heart, 47-3.

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.

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