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Sacred Heart performs better in loss to No. 2 Iowa

Sacred heart’s Hunter Perez (184 pounds) battles No. 8 Abe Assad of Iowa in Friday night’s loss to the No. 2 Hawkeyes in Albany, N.Y.

ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 18, 2022 – Sacred Heart wrestling coach John Clark was a two-time All-American wrestler at Ohio State. He understands what it takes to compete at the elite Division I level.

He is trying to show that to his young Pioneer wrestlers with a challenging schedule that has included three top 20 teams in the first five matches of the season and will include wrestlers from top 25 programs at Sunday’s Keystone Classic in Philadelphia and the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas later this month.

The lessons continued on Friday night when the Pioneers faced No. 2 Iowa for the first time in program history. The Hawkeyes prevailed, 35-6 in front of an estimated 1,000 spirited and loud fans but the Pioneers won two matches and had leads in other matches before falling.

“The lessons are very simple,” Clark said. “Everyone is the same. We want to eliminate the mystique of these top teams and work as hard as we can so we can be one of those top teams. We’re not here to make promises. We’re here to try and close the gap on our competition.”

True freshman Mikey Manta began the match with a 5-1 win over Iowa’s Aidan Harris at 125 pounds to give the Hearts a 3-0 lead. At 133, Sacred Heart’s Andrew Fallon had three takedowns and Fallon had a one-point lead in the second period before Cullan Schreiver took over with a series of takedowns to secure a 20-13 victory.

Sacred Heart’s Seth Brown (141) got some back points off Iowa’s Drew Bennett and had an early 8-4 lead before falling 12-8. Pioneer teammate Nick Palumbo earned a 8-4 decision over Iowa’s Caleb Rathjen for the second Pioneer win of the match.

“I tell the guys that they are better than they think,” said Palumbo, who was one of two Sacred Heart wrestlers to earn a spot in the NCAA Division I tournament in 2021, ending a 13-year qualifying drought in the program. “I think some of our guys put themselves into a mental box. Instead of coming away with a loss, (he suggests to) take away that I wrestled pretty good. I am not where I need to be but I’m on the way.”

Sacred Heart’s Mikey Manto earned a win at 125 pounds in Friday night’s dual meet with Iowa in Albany.

Sacred Heart didn’t score a point in earlier losses to No. 21 Rutgers and then-No. 17 Lehigh. Against the Scarlet Knights, the Pioneers didn’t have a single takedown.

But against Iowa, they got two wins. They had leads. They got takedowns. They scored points.

“We can’t let up on the gas ever,” Manta said. “That is when the top guys capitalize. If we’re always moving, it will be tough to score (on us).”

No. 13 Patrick Kennedy (165) started a six-match winning streak for Iowa with a 24-9 technical fall win over Aidan Zarella, senior Joe Kelly (174) used a six-point move in the first period en route to a 17-7 major decision over Ryan Bollentino and No. 8 Abe Assad (184) scored 10 points in the third period in a 22-9 win over Hunter Perez at 184.

Iowa capped off the match with No. 4 Tony Cassioppi’s third straight pin with a fall over the Pioneers’ Marc Berisha in 1:28.

The Sacred Heart bout with Iowa was part of the ArmBar at the Armory event in downtown Albany, coordinated by soon-to-be Hall of Fame organizer Frank Popolizio, who invited six Division I teams and a pair of nationally-ranked Division III teams to be part of the event.

“It was exciting for sure,” Sacred Heart’s Matt Laurie of Wethersfield said. “I grew up watching Iowa and those coaches. It was a surreal moment to walk out there and wrestle them.”

It was loud and there were groups of vocal fans from Iowa, North Carolina State, Buffalo and Sacred Heart scattered throughout the building that was once home to the CBA’s Albany Patroons, who won a championship led by Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, who later coached the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

No. 9 North Carolina State beat Buffalo and Central Michigan with Danbury native Ryan Jack (141) winning a pair of major decisions for the Wolfpack. Jack is ranked No. 19 in the country at 141.

Trumbull’s Matt Ryan (141) had his varsity debut this season Friday in a loss to Drew Bennett of Iowa.

Trumbull’s Matt Ryan (141) made his varsity debut this season in Buffalo’s match against Iowa, dropping a 9-6 decision to Iowa’s Drew Bennett.

A pair of Connecticut wrestlers were in the lineup for No. 22 Castleton University in a match of two top 25 teams in Division III. No. 9 College of New Jersey outlasted Castleton, 16-15.

Tolland’s Mike Angers (165) got a takedown in overtime to earn a win for Castleton while Granby’s Cooper Fleming (174) got taken down at the buzzer to drop a 3-1 decision.

ArmBar at the Armory
Round 1
(2) Iowa 35, Sacred Heart 6
(9) North Carolina State 26, Central Michigan 12
(25) Illinois 28, Buffalo 9
Round 2
(2) Iowa 35, Buffalo 7
(9) North Carolina State 27, (25) Illinois 12
(9) College of New Jersey 16, (22) Castleton University 15**
**Division III rankings

Round 1
No. 2 Iowa 35, Sacred Heart 6

At Albany, N.Y.
125 – Mikey Manta (SH) dec. Aidan Harris (UI), 5-1
133 – Cullan Schriever (UI) dec. Andrew Fallon (SH), 20-13
141 – Drew Bennett (UI) dec. Seth Brown (SH), 12-8
149 – #7 Max Murin (UI) tech. fall Matt Laurie (SH), 20-5
157 – Nick Palumbo (SH) dec. Caleb Rathjen (UI), 8-4
165 – #13 Patrick Kennedy (UI) tech. fall Aidan Zarrella (SH), 24-9
174 – Joe Kelly (UI) major dec. Ryan Bolletino (SH), 17-7
184 – #8 Abe Assad (UI) major dec. Hunter Perez (SH), 22-9
197 – Zach Glazier (UI) tech. fall Nick Copley (SH), 18-3
285 – #4 Tony Cassioppi (UI) pins Marc Berisha (SH), 1:28
Records: Iowa 3-0, Sacred Heart 0-5

No. 25 Illinois 28 Buffalo 9
At Albany, N.Y.

125 – Maximo Renteria (ILL) dec. Patrick Adams (UB), 7-4
133 – Kole Brower (ILL) dec. Tommy Maddox (UB), 11-7
141 – Daniel Pucino (ILL) dec. Jack Marlow (UB), 11-5
149 – Kevin Davenport (ILL) dec. Kaleb Burgess (UB), 5-3
157 – Nick Stampolous (UB) pin Luke Odom (ILL), 5:40
165 – #22 Danny Braunagel (ILL) pin Noah Grover (UB), 4:42
174 – #10 Edmond Ruth (ILL) dec. Jay Nivison (UB), 2-1
184 – Giuseppe Hoose (UB) dec. Dylan Connell (ILL), 4-3
197 – #14 Zac Braunagel (ILL) dec. Eli Sherren (UB), 12-5
285 – Matt Wroblewski (ILL) dec. Greg Hodulick (UB), 10-2
Records: Buffalo 2-4, Ilinois 1-0

No. 9 NC State 26, Central Michigan 12
At Albany, N.Y.
125: Troy Hohman (NCSU) dec. Sean Spidle: 4-3
133: Vince Perez def. Jacob Cox (NCSU); medical forfeit
141: No. 19 Ryan Jack (NCSU) dec. Ja’Kerion Meritt; 12-3
149: Jackson Arrington (NCSU) dec. No. 14 Johnny Lovett; 4-3 OT
157: No. 33 Corbyn Munson dec. No. 6 Ed Scott (NCSU)
165: Don Cates (NCSU) dec. Tracy Hubbard; 3-2
174: Alex Cramer dec. Joey Milano (NCSU); 6-2
184: No. 3 Trent Hidlay (NCSU) pin Ben Cushman
197: No. 19 Isaac Trumble (NCSU) dec. Cameron Wood; 11-2
285: No. 21 Owen Trephan (NCSU) dec. Bryan Caves; 4-2.
Records: NC State 4-0

Round 2
No. 2 Iowa 35, Buffalo 7
At Albany, N.Y.

125 – Pat Adams (UB) major dec. Charles Matthews (UI), 11-2
133 – Cullan Schriever (UI) tech. fall. Mason Bush (UB), 23-8
141 – Drew Bennett (UI) dec. Matt Ryan (UB), 9-6
149 – #7 Max Murin (UI) major dec. Kaleb Burgess (UB), 16-5
157 – Caleb Rathjen (UI) dec. Nick Stampoulus (UB), 6-0
165 – Cobe Siebrecht (UI) major dec. Noah Grover (UB), 8-0
174 – Marcus Petite (UB) dec. Joe Kelly (UI), 2-0
184 – #8 Abe Assad (UI) tech. fall #32 Giuseppe Hoose (UB), 22-7
197 – #2 Jacob Warner (UI) tech. fall Sam Mitchell (UB), 26-8
285 – #4 Tony Cassioppi (UI) pin Greg Hodulick (UB), 0:53
Records: Iowa 4-0, Buffalo 2-5

No. 9 NC State 27, No. 25 Illinois 12
At Albany, N.Y.
125: No.29 Jarrett Trombley (NCSU) dec. Maximo Renteria; 5-1
133: No. 6 Lucas Byrd pin Jacob Cox (NCSU)
141: No. 19 Ryan Jack (NCSU) dec. Danny Pucino; 14-4
149: Jackson Arrington (NCSU) dec. Kevon Davenport; 10-2
157: Ed Scott (NCSU) dec. Anthony Federico; 15-3
165: No. 22 Danny Braunagel dec. Aaron Faison; 9-3
174: No. 10 Edmond Ruth dec. Brock Delsignore (NCSU); 7-2
184: No. 3 Trent Hidlay (NCSU) tech fall Dylan Connell 23-7
197: No. 19 Isaac Trumble (NCSU) dec. Zac Braunagel; 11-4
285: No. 21 Owen Trephan (NCSU) dec. Matt Wroblewski; 10-2
Records: NC State 5-0, Illinois 1-1

No. 9 College of New Jersey 16, No. 22 Castleton University 15
At Albany, N.Y.
125: Ryan Rosenthal (TCNJ) dec. Kaya Bogle, 2-0
133: Michael Gonyea (Cast) dec. Larry Melchionda, 11-8
141: Domenic Difrancescantonio (TCNJ) dec. James Rodriguez, 8-2
149: Mike Conklin (TCNJ) dec. Nicholas Roeger, 11-4
157: Jashon Holmes (Cast.) dec. Matt Sacco, 4-2
165: Michael Angers (Cast.) dec. Nick Sacco, 3-1, OT
174: Reid Colella (TCNJ) dec. Cooper Fleming, 3-1
184: Quinn Haddad (TCNJ) Major dec. Sampson Wilkins, 10-0
197: Haven Tatarek (Cast.) dec. Joe Daddario, 4-2
285: Shea Garand (Cast.) dec. Peter Wersinger, 3-1, OT
NOTE: College of New Jersey and Castleton are nationally-ranked Division III programs.


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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