2013 All-State wrestler Sam Eagan has been named either the Overall Player of the Game or the Defensive Player of the Game for the Churchville-Chili football team four times already in the 2013-14 season. While he likes football, he said his choice for his athletic future is clear.
“I love wrestling,” he said. “Basically, I just enjoy wrestling more.”
He will continue to enjoy wrestling at the University of Wyoming after he completes his senior year, as he made a verbal commitment to Mark Branch and the Cowboys earlier this week after also considering Maryland and Edinboro. He expects to compete at heavyweight.
Although the school is quite a distance from New York, going there will be a bit of a homecoming for Eagan.
“I’m originally from Salt Lake City, Utah,” he said. “Aside from my immediate family, everyone is out there. It will be a chance for me to spend more time with a lot of my family.”
There were a number of other reasons Eagan chose the Cowboys, including some of the highly accomplished workout partners on the staff.
“It’s a great place for heavier guys to train, with [two-time NCAA champion] Chris Pendleton and [NCAA finalist] Clayton Foster out there,” Eagan said. “I had a gut feeling when I visited that it was the place I wanted to be. The first thing that struck me was just how tight-knit the team and community in Laramie is. You have the support of the whole town, especially since wrestling is one of the most successful sports at the school.”
Eagan had success at the state tournament a year ago, as he took fifth place at 220 pounds. Just getting to Albany was something he appreciated.
“I wasn’t an inherently talented wrestler,” he said. “I really had to work for everything I earned. I wrestled varsity as a freshman, but it wasn’t a successful season by any means. I think I was something like 8-13 at heavyweight.”
While he won around 30 matches as a sophomore in the 285-pound class, he felt that a change was necessary to make a bigger splash in his 11th grade year.
“I wasn’t having the kind of success I wanted to at heavyweight,” he said. “Over that summer, I lost about 40 pounds to get to 220. I actually spent a good portion of the time at camps. One of those camps was at Wyoming. For most of August, I wrestled three times a day on a pretty strict diet.”
The result was a breakout 43-5 campaign in which Eagan won his first SuperSectional championship to punch his ticket to the state tournament. At the Times Union Center, he was slotted into the #16 position in the bracket where his first round opponent was top-seeded Nick Lupi of Huntington, the returning bronze medalist at the weight.
“It was my first time there, but I expected to win,” he said. “I gave him a really close match. He took me down really quickly off the whistle. I think I was a little shellshocked from just being there. I got aggressive – I was only the second person to take him down that year. But it was too late.”
After the 6-4 setback, Eagan responded with three consecutive victories in the wrestlebacks, including a pair of pins. That set up another meeting with Lupi and this time, it took three overtimes for the Long Island wrestler to squeak out a 3-2 victory.
“He wrestled a more conservative match and I was more relaxed the second time,” Eagan said. “It was 2-2 in regulation and we both rode each other out for 30 seconds. He escaped in the ultimate tiebreaker to win. It bothered me because I didn’t get a takedown and I like to push the pace more than most upperweights.”
That sent Eagan to the fifth place bout, where he came out on top 5-3 over Jenard Rosemound of Calhoun to end his season on a winning note.
“Before that match, I was just thinking of getting fifth place,” he said. “Fifth sounds a lot better than sixth. I did my best to put the last loss out of my mind and luckily, it came out my way.”
In addition to earning him a higher spot on the medal stand, that last victory, his 43rd of the campaign, had additional significance. It elevated Eagan to the top of the Churchville-Chili list for victories in a single season.
Eagan’s assault on the record books could continue this year, as he is on pace to break the all-time wins mark at the school.
“I had no idea until after the tournament,” Eagan said. “My coach came over and said, ‘Oh yeah you just broke the school record for wins in a season.’ It was kind of a bonus. I think the school record is 108 or so and I’m sitting on 95. If all goes well, barring injury, I should break that record. I try not to think about things like that, but sometimes you can’t help it. It’s a really good feeling to know you have a part in Churchville-Chili wrestling history.”
There are other ways he’s hoping to cement his spot in the school’s history. To increase his chances, he sought out top notch competition this summer.
“I spent less times at camps and more time at national tournaments,” Eagan said. “I was in Oklahoma City for the National Duals in Freestyle and Greco and I went to Fargo. It was wild. I’d never been to Virginia Beach or FloNationals, so it was my first taste of the national scene. It was definitely humbling. You see that compared to some of the guys out there, you’re not that special.”
Eagan has plans to do some special things in his last year in Section 5. He knows that only one other medalist returns from the Division I 220 pound state bracket – champion Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell.
“My biggest accomplishment in wrestling so far was probably placing at the state tournament,” he said. “But I’m not content with that. I know the champion is back, but I really think I can beat him. I expect to win a state title this year. That’s my goal and I 100% believe it.”
Sam Eagan wanted to thank his parents, his “biggest inspirations”. He also wanted to thank Coach Tom Ehmann from Churchville-Chili, Coach Mike Ferris of Brockport, Coach Rich Romeo from Canandaigua, Coach Joe McVige and North Rose Wolcott Coach Jerry DeCausemaker.