Hartford, Conn. - Senior wrestler Mason Sangillo has mastered how to make the most of the student-athlete experience at Trinity College. Sangillo has excelled in the classroom as a double major in philosophy and political science, and helped the Bantam wrestling program grow into what it is today.

Sangillo started wrestling in just sixth grade and continued to gain momentum in the sport throughout high school. He was a huge fan of what Trinity had to offer when looking at colleges, and it just so happened that his high school coach went to graduate school and was good friends with Trinity’s head wrestling coach, Marques Gales. Coach Gales explained how even now, he and Sangillo’s high school coach will exchange texts discussing the Florham Park, N.J. native's accomplishments and improvement.

Sangillo has combined his studies with his passion for wrestling by taking “a very philosophical approach to the sport,” according to Coach Gales. He has stepped it up this year as a veteran of the squad, fulfilling responsibilities Coach Gales has designated to the nine member senior class.

“Mason has come a long way. He always knows how to balance fun and seriousness by lightening the atmosphere when he needs to or getting down to business when necessary. He is one of our most vocal leaders, which helps inspire the younger ones,” said Coach Gales.

The Trinity wrestling team pairs each senior with a freshman mentee to assist them throughout their first season on the team and first year at Trinity. Sangillo’s mentee is Kevin Lyskawa, who has found his mentor to be a huge help on and off of the wrestling mat.

“Mason has been a great resource for everything from selecting courses to getting a good lift done in the weight room," explained Lyskawa. "After suffering an injury during practice, he was the first person to be next to me as I lay in pain. Overall, it's been a pleasure getting to know Mason and he's made my transition to Trinity much smoother. During this big time of adjustment in my life, it's great to have someone looking over me and someone to fall back on.”

Since Mason’s rookie season, the Bantam grapplers have grown tremendously in size and skill, with great help from this year's senior class. In 2015 when they joined the team, Trinity had just an 18-person roster with only three veterans. The roster now holds almost 30 wrestlers, and is upperclassmen heavy, which helps set the standard for future generations.

“It’s cool to be a part of the class that helped the team grow so much and make wrestling into an established and more recognized team on campus. Thinking about how much my classmates have all matured individually is crazy,” Sangillo stated. “Being a part of a team like ours or just being an athlete here has given me a sense of purpose at Trinity. Even just being able to represent the team and wear Trinity wrestling apparel around campus always makes me feel good,” he added.

For Sangillo, his friendships with his teammates have been the most valuable part of his Trinity experience thus far. He has lived with teammates all four years, so between working out together everyday, spending hours on buses traveling to matches, and just hanging out in their dorms, the team has become one very tight unit. Coach Gales explained that he will remember Mason as someone who can always make everyone laugh and keep things interesting, especially on those long bus rides.

“He’s definitely a comedian. We always like to have debates or play fun games on the bus, and you can guarantee there is never going to be a dull moment with Mason around,” added Gales.

Mason credits a lot of his wrestling growth over the past four years to one of the team’s assistant coaches, Shirzad Ahmadi, who has over 40 years of coaching experience and is a four-time Iranian National Champion in professional wrestling.

“Shirzad has a totally different mentality to the sport. It’s like he is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. Even at 70 years old, he goes up to our biggest guys, looks them square in the eyes, and tells them ‘I’m going to take you down and pin you.’ I’d like to continue wrestling for as long as I can, so watching him proves that that’s possible. He broke his rib in practice recently and just kept on going, which shows his perseverance and resilience that we all strive to have as well,” explained Sangillo.

Some of his favorite wrestling memories come from the few times a week when Shirzad runs the warm-up for practice. “Shirzad knows how to get everyone going. He plays this crazy music and it builds up into this big dance party that gets everyone excited to work hard.”

Sangillo and Coach Ahmadi

Academically, Sangillo has earned various honors since his first season and is a President’s Fellow in the philosophy department despite the rigors of such an intense in-season schedule. As far as post-graduation plans, Mason hopes to either pursue a career in teaching and coaching, or continue his education at law school.

“Our days are usually 12 hours long between juggling practice, class, and school work, but it’s all worth it. The hard work everyone puts into practice makes everything else seem easier. When I am sitting in the library doing homework, no one’s there trying to pin me down, so wrestling definitely puts things into perspective,” he explained.f

Coach Gales sees a lot of potential in Sangillo for his final season. After finishing with a 19-12 last year, Gales believes Sangillo has a good shot to place in the NCAA Division III Regional Championships and earn National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Scholar All-American honors.

“Mason is in a very competitive weight class, but he always comes out of every match with something positive to say. He never gets down on himself. He’s one of our hardest workers, so he deserves a lot out of this season,” said Gales. “Any setback will just motivate him even further. He loves the sport, so I know he will make the most of every opportunity he has left.”

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