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Valley Sports Report
The Elmira College women’s wrestling program has put itself on the map the past couple of seasons.

The Soaring Eagles have had All-Americans, and a year ago they finished 10th at the NWCA National Dual Meet Championships.

The program even has a USA Wrestling National Team member as Zoey Lints earned a spot on the U20 U.S. National Team.

Now, the program has another big accomplishment, landing a former No. 1 ranked wrestler in the nation out of the transfer portal as Tioga’s Emily Sindoni signed with the Soaring Eagles.

“It’s super important, just continuing to show the top girls in the state of N.Y. that they can wrestle here at Elmira College, and we can achieve big things and be successful, put girls on U.S. National teams and do things at the national level,” said Elmira College coach Cody Griswold.

“It’s huge, we have had a couple of other nationally-ranked girls come here, but never someone ranked No. 1 in the country, and never someone with her talent from the area — and all the support that comes with that. I had someone tell me, ‘hey coach the whole town of Tioga is going to be at every home match.’”

For Sindoni, the location and everything about the school drew her to EC.

“It being close to home, and just the environment,” she said.

And, having some top level girls on the team just added to the draw.

“With the training parters, especially,” she said. “It was a big decision-maker for me. It gives me tough people I have to compete with and practice with.”

Griswold knows the success the program has had the past few years is a big part of what helped him land a recruit like Sindoni.

“That’s giant,” he said. “Going back, Skylah Chakouian becoming an all-American and then signing big names from N.Y. like Abby Duke and then having Zoey Lints come here and make a U.S. National Team … and the success the team has had, beating some nationally-ranked programs.

“Others seeing that and believing in our vision, I think that’s giant, added Griswold. “I think without that it’s really hard to land some of the top recruits in the country.”

Sindoni knows of many of the girls on the team and that definitely helped her decision.

“It was part of it,” she said. “Because, I know their work ethic and things like that and just being so close with some of them.”

Bringing in a top-ranked recruit like Sindoni is special, but bringing one in who is from N.Y. just opens even more doors in N.Y. recruiting.

“Getting someone like Emily definitely makes it easier in the state of N.Y. and the Southern Tier, but also easier nationally,” Griswold said. “A two-time national champion and Fargo Finalist, she’s going to continue making recruiting even easier, pushing girls in our room. It really just makes a giant impact in every way.”

Sindoni hopes that she helps bring in even more big recruits.

“I think it’s going to be a big impact for Section 4, but not just Section 4, but N.Y.,” Sindoni said. “Most girls in Section 4 know who I am and me being there may be a big decision-maker for them. Some of the girls in N.Y. will know some of the top names there (at EC).”

And, one day maybe that means some of the younger Tioga girls making a trip to EC.

“I hope so,” Sindoni said. “They are quite young, but hopefully one day they will be able to make it there.”

A year ago, during her freshman year at D’Youville there was a mach at Elmira College for Sindoni. It was a packed house, and that’s something Elmira College is looking forward to each and every match this year.

“It’s so important just getting people involved, people on campus that love the sport of wrestling and continuing to show how talented the young women on the team are,” Griswold said. “Building a fan base is one of the most important things I have been trying to wrestle.

“We wrestled D’Youville last year and it felt like an away match at one point because everyone in the stands was wearing D’Youville red … I’m excited to have everyone wearing purple. I’m excited to build a program and build our brand.”

Sindoni is excited to wrestle in front of a big crowd each home match.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I really think it’s a big important thing for people to come watch and I know I have the support and, hopefully, they make Elmira duals interesting and fun.

“I am really excited because I’ll have the support system and we should be a top five team in the country. Being on a team that’s competitive and wanting to do those big things is important to me.”

It’s especially important to Sindoni after D’Youville didn’t really have any home meets, so most of the matches she wrestled were out of state.

“It was a change,” she said. “We didn’t compete in Buffalo so it was always Ohio and stuff, so people didn’t get to come watch me that often.”

Out of high school, Sindoni wasn’t sure she wanted to be this close to home, now she knows it’s where she belongs.

“At first, I thought it was going to be too close to home and I didn’t really give it a chance. Now, I think it’s the perfect place to be,” Sindoni said. “I think it’s a cool opportunity. We can all grow together and be what we want to be and hopefully be the best in the next few years.”

It’s not just Sindoni coming in next year, as the Elmira College Soaring Eagles will bring in a big, and talented class of athletes.

“I’m really excited,” Griswold said. “Bringing in 10 other girls, going to be at 30 girls on our team.

“Ragan Retell, another nationally-ranked girl will be here … she and Emily will probably be practice partners a lot of time. Ten girls said and done — I think seven are from New York, one from Florida, one from Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey.

“There are one or two more transfers we are trying to land here,” added Griswold. “I’m super-excited for next year. I think we have a really good chance at finishing higher at national duals.”

Retell is a two-time Fargo All-American and the 13th-ranked wrestler in the country.

Griswold knows all the talent will just make each other better.

“Our saying is ‘iron sharpens iron,’ putting that in the room each girl has something to give others,” Sindoni said. “I think just competing for a starting spot on this team is going to be really, really competitive. We are going to make each other better every single day. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Sindoni knows joining a team with good talent in the room every day will help her reach some high goals she has for herself.

“I want to be a national champion and I want to make world teams,” Sindoni said.

And, she knows Griswold gets the best out of his athletes.

“He brings them everywhere they want to go and pushes them to be the best,” she said.

Sindoni has been talking to her future teammates and she knows everyone is excited for her to be there.

“When I want on my visit I did (meet some of the wrestlers) and I’m close to a few and I’ve been talking to them,” Sindoni said. “They are really excited, especially the ones who have been trying to get me the last three years.”

Griswold believes Elmira College can become one of the top programs in the country, and send many athletes to nationals, and even have national champs.

“I am thrilled,” Griswold said. “I think each year we have brought in some really strong classes. This year, we put the pieces together. I think we should send all 15 to nationals this year. A really good chance at 5, 6, or 7 All-Americans, and a few really good chances to be in the national finals.

“Our lineup through and through is loaded with talent. I am super, super excited,” he added.

When the program started, Griswold said he was excited for the chance to bring in top-ranked wrestlers in the nation, and now that has become a reality.

“That’s huge,” he said. “I remember when we met that was one of my goals and I always thought that was really cool about all of this. Getting that first number one recruit is big.

“Now, doing work and making sure everyone reaches their potential, it’s awesome,” added Griswold. “I’m really excited. I”m excited to wrap up this recruiting class and get them on the mat in the fall.”


IN PHOTO: Emily Sindoni.

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