- Post by: mcalibrary
- January 3, 2024
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For Mark Sassani, winning has been the one constant in his life as a high school athlete, college wrestler and high school wrestling coach. After breaking into the starting lineup of a very talented wrestling squad, Mark suffered a broken arm in his first varsity match as a freshman. Little did he know at the time that injuries would play a major role during the remainder of his athletic career.
He did go on to register a 43-9-2 record as a schoolboy wrestler and was able to win a Dist. IV Southern Sectional Championship as well as a Dist. IV runner up trophy. This was at a time when there were no classes and Dist. IV contained approximately 60 schools. It also meant one loss and you were done! Mark was the first recipient of the Lawrence D’Angelo Award, given to the outstanding senior wrestler. Overall, Mark’s high school teams had a combined record of 80-9-1 over a 4 year period.
During the fall, Mark was a member of the Tornado football teams which went on to win 2 Southern Division Championships and one Eastern Conference crown in 1969. Mark played guard, nose guard, linebacker and halfback during his playing career.
Sassani continued his wrestling career at Mansfield University where he was recognized as the outstanding freshman and give the Dr. Wallace Maurer Award. He served as co-captain during his junior year and as captain his senior campaign where he was first the recipient of the Marion “Spotts” Decker Award as Mansfield’s outstanding senior athlete. During his stay with the Mounties, Mark wrestled anywhere from 158 to 190 pounds depending on where he was needed. In 1974, he became Mansfield’s first NCAA Division III All American by placing in the NCAA tournament to cap off four winning seasons as Mountie grappler. He lost at least one third of each season due to injuries but was able to wrestle 12 national champions in addition to NCAA champions, Wade Shalles and Floyd Hitchcock, as well as Olympic Games medalist and future coach Stan Deitzig.
As a matter of fact, rumor has it that a wrestler from Mansfield once had the great Shorty Hitchcock pinned in a match at Bloomsburg University but the official didn’t call it because of the hostile crowd. Years later, that official admitted the story to be true. The wrestler from Mansfield? Mark Sassani.
After college, Mark returned home to MCA where he took over the wrestling program and immediately started the elementary and junior high programs. During his 7 year stint at MCA, 10 of his wrestlers were Dist. IV finalists including 2 champions and 3 wrestlers who placed in Regional competition. Mark was inducted into the Mansfield University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
Sassani now lives in Mount Carmel with his wife Donna and daughters, Lori Ann and Elizabeth. In addition to teaching at MCA, he is the owner of St. Joseph’s Art Studio in Mount Carmel and recently completed the beautiful mural inside of Divine Redeemer Church in Mount Carmel.