Ul­ster fields pro­gram for first time since 1979

For first time since 1979, the Sen­a­tors will field a team poised for Satur­day’s sea­son opener

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Hu­bert bhu­bert@free­manon­line.com @bri­anat­free­man on Twit­ter

Wrestling re­turns to SUNY Ul­ster for the first time in 37 years Satur­day when the Sen­a­tors host club squads from Cort­land and the Uni­ver­sity of Albany in a tri­an­gu­lar meet at Se­nate Gym­na­sium.

The newly re­in­stated pro­gram is coached by Justin Sig­norelli — his as­sis­tant is Wil­liam Parks.

Sig­norelli was an as­sis­tant coach of High­land High’s wrestling squad the past three sea­sons, in­clud­ing 2014 when the Huskies won a Sec­tion 9 ti­tle.

A 2009 High­land grad­u­ate, Sig­norelli joined the wrestling pro­gram in its first year in 2006. He also played foot­ball and lacrosse for the Huskies.

The Sen­a­tors orig­i­nal wrestling pro­gram ran from 1967 to 1979. In Jan­uary of 1980, the pro­gram was dropped due to a lack in­ter­est. While the team had sev­eral who en­joyed a level of in­di­vid­ual suc­cess, the pro­gram found lit­tle suc­cess as a team dur­ing its orig­i­nal run.

Sig­norelli has 10 mem­bers on this year’s ros­ter: Kingston’s Pa­trick Car­roll, Cather­ine Devlin, Matt Fusco, Lakell Martin and Eliot Marzano; New Paltz’s Mo­hammed Khan, Dominick Mas­saro and Miles-Whit­more-Parr; Ron­d­out’s Josh San­ti­ago and Alex Muñoz of Sauger­ties.

At a re­cent prac­tice, Sig­norelli ac­knowl­edged the team faces many chal­lenges in­clud­ing fundrais­ing for equip­ment — that in­cluded mats that cost more than $9,000 — and travel.

And Sig­norelli had a bit of a late start to the re­cruit­ing sea­son.

“I was only hired in March,” he said.

Ul­ster has an en­roll­ment of 3,500 stu­dents com­pared to Dutchess which has 10,000 stu­dents, but has no wrestling pro­gram, Sig­norelli noted. The near­est com­mu­nity col­lege with a wrestling pro­gram is Sul­li­van, he said.

The Sen­a­tors’ eight-meet sched­ule will take them through­out Eastern New York, North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer-

sey and Western Mas­sachusetts.

Af­ter Satur­day’s opener, SUNY Ul­ster trav­els to Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity for the New York State tour­na­ment on Nov 20 be­fore com­pet­ing in the: Cy­clone Open at Cen­te­nary Uni­ver­sity in Hack­ettstown, New Jersey on Dec. 4; the North­east­ern Du­els at Nas­sau in Gar­den City on Dec. 17; the Wil­liams In­vi­ta­tional at Wil­liams Col­lege in Wil­liamstown, Mas­sachusetts on Jan. 7; and Key­stone Col­lege in La Plume, Penn­syl­va­nia on Jan. 22.

Ul­ster plans to take col­lege vans in lieu of busses on the shorter trips, Sig­norelli said. De­spite these chal­lenges, he re­mains op­ti­mistic.

“We got a good group of guys com­ing in ev­ery­day and work­ing hard,” he said. “These guys got it down. We’re just go­ing to have to keep build­ing and try to get more guys mov­ing for­ward.”

On top of his coach­ing du­ties, Sig­norelli works full-time at Craft Beer Guild in New Paltz where he works from 6 p.m. to any­where from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. de­pend­ing on the night, he said.

Sig­norelli typ­i­cally gets to the col­lege at noon and re­mains there un­til he goes to his night job. He said, de­spite the long hours, coach­ing is to­tally worth it.

“I like mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, show­ing a guy some­thing and then see­ing them do it 20 times bet­ter,” he said.

Sig­norelli said he en­joys be­ing there for his wrestlers even if that means just to talk with them.

“That’s the most re­ward­ing part,” he said.

Sig­norelli ex­cited about the grow­ing buzz around ath­let­ics on cam­pus un­der Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Matt Bren­nie, who came to the col­lege in Au­gust 2015.

“Bren­nie is build­ing more tra­di­tion and ath­let­ics pride,” he said. “More kids at Ul­ster are wear­ing their wrestling, base­ball and bas­ket­ball shirts and show­ing their Se­na­tor pride, which is pretty cool to see.”

Next year Sig­norelli plans to ex­pand his re­cruit­ing sphere to in­clude more of Sec­tion 9, Sec­tion 1 and farther down­state.

“If we can pull guys from that area, and just keep bring­ing in qual­ity wrestlers who want to be here and work hard and have suc­cess at the col­le­giate level that’s go­ing to give us a great op­por­tu­nity to com­pete for re­gional and na­tional championships,” he said.

Sig­norelli is no stranger to col­le­giate wrestling as he wres­tled for Cort­land for four years, in­clud­ing two as team cap­tain.

“I won a cou­ple of col­lege tour­na­ments,” he said.

He grad­u­ated in 2013 with a bach­e­lors in com­mu­ni­ca­tions. But he ad­mit­ted it’s been a bit of an ad­just­ment mov­ing from a four-year school to a twoyear col­lege.

“There are no dorms here, and a lot of the kids have part-time jobs and com­mute to school,” he said. “But it has its ben­e­fits. It’s way more af­ford­able, and they can live at home, save a lot of money and come in and wres­tle lo­cally with guys they know from the area.”

Among them is Josh San­ti­ago, a crim­i­nal jus­tice stu­dent, who grad­u­ated from Ron­d­out Valley last year, and is in his first year at Ul­ster.

San­ti­ago said he heard about the wrestling pro­gram and he re­mem­bered Sig­norelli from when he was a High­land as­sis­tant so he de­cided to join the team.

San­ti­ago said so far he’s found the col­lege sched­ule to be eas­ier than his high school rou­tine.

“I have more time dur­ing the day to work out,” San­ti­ago said.

And with the sea­son just days away San­ti­ago feels things are com­ing to­gether.

“We have a real good bunch of guy, we’re def­i­nitely go­ing to im­prove,” San­ti­ago said.

TANIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

SUNY Ul­ster head coach Justin Sig­norelli watches over Alex Munoz of Sauger­ties, top, and Eliot Marzano of Kingston dur­ing re­cent wrestling prac­tice at Se­nate Gym­na­sium.

TANIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

Head coach Justin Sig­norelli, stands in the mid­dle of the mat as his Sean­tors warm up.

TANIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

New Paltz’s Miles Whit­more-Parr tries to break free from Lakell Martin of Kingston’s grip dur­ing prac­tice.

TANIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

Mo­hammed Khan of New Paltz does some shadow wrestling moves dur­ing re­cent SUNY Ul­ster prac­tice.

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