SHARON TWP. — Sometimes the place you least expect to fall in love with is the one that pulls on the heartstrings.
Anthony Melchiorre went to Gannon University on a college visit expecting to turn around and come home unsatisfied.
But something happened on the way back and the Walsh Jesuit senior and Sharon Township resident couldn’t stop thinking about the Golden Knights.
Melchiorre had wrestling offers from Kent State and Cleveland State and Findlay and Mount Union were showing interest as well, but there was something about Gannon the two-time state qualifier couldn’t shake.
“I got along real well with the kids and the coach (Don Henry) is one of the nicest guys,” Melchiorre said. “I liked the city. It’s not too small and not to big. It was a great atmosphere.”
It was an atmosphere the 189-pound senior saw at Walsh as well.
He also saw a future that screamed wrestling. While he’s deciding between three weight classes in the fall, Melchiorre knows the backing the school has for the program is almost unparalleled.
Henry has coached six regional champions and has qualified wrestlers for the national championships 29 times during the last eight seasons. The Golden Knights finished eighth at the 2010 NCAA Division II national championships.
Henry produced Gannon’s first national champion in 2001 and has had two runners-up, 28 All-Americans and 20 regional champions along with 54 all-academic wrestlers and 59 national qualifiers.
“They’re consistently competitive just like Walsh,” said Melchiorre, who plans on majoring in marketing and finance. “The coach puts you with who you’re going to be best with.
“Every sport at Walsh is good, but at Gannon wrestling is their best sport. It will be cool to have the entire school behind me.”
Melchiorre’s senior year was cut in half due to injury. When he came back, the 189-pounder looked to be destined for the podium, but an ankle injury changed things, though Melchiorre never gave up.
He missed the podium by a single match and swears that will make him better down the line.
“I’m hungry,” he said. “I’m ready to be an All-American. I flew under the radar all season. I’m ready to show all the schools that wanted me what they missed.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.