The Rensselaer Union is home to more than 200 clubs, including 55 athletics clubs. Many of the club sports teams have had great successes this winter and spring, and two teams—ACHA Ice Hockey and Wrestling—recently competed in national competitions.
“I’m extremely proud of their accomplishments and dedication to their respective sports,” said Steven Allard, director of the Mueller Center, recreation and club sports. “Our club sports teams were in all parts of the U.S. over the last few months representing RPI.”
The ACHA Ice Hockey team, a competitive club hockey team that competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2, won the ACHA East Regional and competed in the Division 2 National Championship March 15-19 in Columbus, Ohio. According to club vice president Adam Hennick ’16, who is pursuing an MBA this year, the team’s Academic All-Americans for 2017 are Thomas Allen, Kyle DeVault, Danny Egner, Austin Egri, Nat Foster, Nick Watkins, and Chris Zaverdas. To qualify, the student athletes must be juniors, seniors, or graduate students with a GPA over 3.2. The 2017 Super East Collegiate Hockey League (SECHL) All-Stars are: Louie Olivieri, Kyle DeVault, Sam Mannion, and Chris Zaverdas.
According to Coach Tom Cooley, the 2016-17 Rensselaer ACHA team continues to grow stronger each year. With an overall record of 22-11-2, including going 2-0 in the Northeast Regional tournament by defeating No. 7 ranked UMass-Amherst and No. 3 ranked UNH, the Engineers earned a first-ever trip to the ACHA Division 2 Nationals held in Columbus, Ohio, over spring break. “As expected, the Nationals brought fierce competition and since the team was lowest seed to survive Regionals, they faced off against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation,” Cooley said.
The team lost in the opener to Lindenwood University-Belleville, which had a roster that included 17 international players from Canada, Czechoslovakia, Sweden (and an ex- NHL coach). On the second night, the Engineers prevailed against Northern Arizona University 2-1 for their first-ever national tournament victory. Though they lost their third game, Coach Cooley had nothing but praise for the team’s effort and performance. “The goal at the beginning of the season was always to make it to Nationals, but no one could have scripted such a journey,” he said. “As a highly selective academic institution, fielding a team capable of competing at this level is no small task.
“True to form,” Cooley continued, “every member of the team, coaching staff, off-ice managers, Student Union leaders, Houston Field House staff, and varsity equipment managers went above and beyond in helping ‘the little engineers that could’ show those who would think schools with 30,000 undergrads and relatively forgiving academic standards had any advantage, and that RPI is synonymous with excellence in everything we do!”
The Rensselaer Wrestling team qualified seven wrestlers to compete at the 2017 National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) National Championships March 9-11 in Allen, Texas, at the Allen Events Center. The student athletes qualified by placing fifth-place or better at the NCWA Northeast Conference Championships on Feb. 25 hosted by the University of New Hampshire. This is the 13th straight year Rensselaer has qualified wrestlers to the national championships.
Qualifying for Rensselaer were Alex Petersen at 125 lbs., Kitan Salako at 133 lbs., Austin Wilson at 141 lbs., Matt Mawby at 149 lbs., Ryan Ford at 184 lbs., Khaled Abdoun at 235 lbs., and Jose Gandarilla at 285 lbs.
Of the 21 teams in the NCWA Northeast Conference, Rensselaer placed sixth as a team with a fairly new and young squad, according to 10th year head coach Brad Nelson. “I’m extremely proud of our team this year and especially the guys who represented RPI on the national stage,” Nelson said. “This is a fairly young team and to have that success with a young group speaks highly of their work ethic and the type of student athletes RPI Wrestling builds.
“Qualifying for the national championships is an accomplishment in itself; I’m not sure many outside of the college wrestling world realize that,” Nelson continued. “There is so much preparation, dedication, and sacrifice that goes unnoticed just to get to that level.”
At the end of the three-day championships, Rensselaer placed in 28th place, and brought home one All-American (Khaled Abdoun) and four National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-Americans (Alex Petersen, Austin Wilson, Matt Mawby, and Khaled Abdoun).
“I’m extremely proud of Khaled Abdoun becoming our 7th wrestling All-American in program history,” said Nelson. “He’s only a sophomore and has many areas he can improve in. His goal is to become RPI’s first national finalist and national champion and I have no doubt he can do it.”
Inside Rensselaer will report out on other club sport successes in our next issue.