BY BRIAN JENNINGS
The hours spent in the weight room and the sacrifice of spending the summer months wrestling with different wrestling clubs across the state all came to a head for Austin Abacherli on Friday, May 19 in the Southington High School library.
The 152-pounder inked his name on a letter of intent to continue his wrestling career with the Division I Pioneers at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield this fall.
“I liked everything about it,” he said. “The campus is beautiful, and they offer a good education. The wrestling and athletic facilities are pretty awesome and brand new. They’re always looking to better the school and never settle for what it already is…which I like a lot.”
The wrestler said that the location of college was ideal. He said that he wanted to be away from home but not too far from home. He said that the decision was also the result of a little sibling rivalry.
His older sister, Allie, is the lacrosse goalkeeper for the Division I Leopards at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. A lot of the schools Austin looked at were Division III, with the exception of Sacred Heart, but he wanted to be at the same level as his sister.
“It’s a little bit of a competition,” said Austin. “If my sister is Division I, I want to be Division I, too. I don’t want to be the sibling that’s lower.”
Austin will be stepping into a fairly younger program at Sacred Heart with a brand new head coach. Former head coach, Andy Lausier, spent four years with the Pioneers, but is now heading to Davidson College in North Carolina to take over the Division I Wildcats. The Pioneers, on the other hand, are currently in the process of interviewing candidates for the head coaching position.
“It’s a good academic school,” said Southington coach Derek Dion. “Selfishly, I like the fact that it’s in-state, so we get to go see him wrestle and compete. Sacred Heart does a pretty good job of supporting their sports teams. With the right coach in there, he can definitely get good.”
As a four-year starter, four-time all-conference wrestler, and four-time Academic All-American, Austin garnered over 100 career wins with a 2017 record of 38-5. After placing fourth in his weight class at the Class LL championship in his freshman year, the two-year team captain continued to climb the ranks by finishing third at the championship in his sophomore year and runner-up in his junior year.
Then, Austin completed the chain. This past winter, he defeated Alexander Stavola of Newtown with a 3-2 decision to win his weight class at the state championship for the first time in his high school career. He later went on to finish third in his weight class at the state open.
Besides his Class LL title, Austin was also champion of his weight class in the Timberlane Tournament in New Hampshire, as well as runner-up in the Lowell Holiday Tournament in Massachusetts and Southington’s own CT Challenge.
Other schools that he was deciding between were Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. and Castleton University in Castleton, Vt. He plans to study history with the intent of becoming a teacher.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.