Glory Days Magazine Male Senior of the Year: Connor Agostino, Egg Harbor TownshipBy NICK KOSKO
Some athletes can perfect one sport with years of hard work, and others can maybe repeat that in two different sports. But three sports, no way can that be done at such a high level. That is, of course, unless you are named Connor Agostino.
The recent graduate of Egg Harbor Township High School never slowed down in his four years in the black-and-silver, as he donned the pads and helmet for football, a singlet for wrestling and a cap and batting gloves for baseball. This year’s Glory Days Magazine Male Senior of the Year brought intensity, skill and passion no matter what season it was.
Let’s start with football, where Agostino stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds and was a bruising fullback for the Eagles. EHT had a season to forget, record-wise, but Agostino played a big part in keeping the team together. He was rewarded for his efforts by getting an invite to the prestigious Adam Taliaferro All-Star Classic, which was held at Rowan University in June and featured some of the best players in all of South Jersey.
“There were a lot of struggles in football this past year,” Agostino said. “My teammates and I got through the adversity by trying to make the best of every little thing, hanging out off the field, and just having fun while we played. That’s what really counted.”
Football coach Kevin Stetser knew he had a man to lean on during the team’s struggles, and also during their success early in Agostino’s career.
“We always knew he was going to have an opportunity to play right away due to his physicality right off the bat,” Stetser said. “He is just a throwback type of kid and was able to play through any bruise or injury, and just refused to stop.”
One moment in particular came to mind when Stetser recounted some of his favorite memories of Agostino running the football. It came in Stetser’s first year as head coach while Agostino was a sophomore, against rival Mainland on Thanksgiving.
“He was the catalyst to us winning that one,” Stetser said. “He had a huge run at the end of the game — about 60 or even 70 yards — that allowed us to ice that game and finally bring the trophy home, and it was a special moment for us and the team.”
Imagine taking all of those hits and suffering all of the bumps and bruises only to hit the wrestling mat the following week after football season ended. That is exactly what Agostino did every year, as he began to cut weight down to 195 pounds to get ready for another grueling athletic challenge.
Agostino certainly did not let the grind get to him, as he captured two district titles, a region title, and three trips to the NJSIAA state championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City during his career, and left as one of the most accomplished wrestlers in school history. The success was great enough that it warranted continuation, as Agostino plans to wrestle in college at Rider University.
“Wrestling has been a huge part of my life for such a long time,” Agostino said. “Looking back on my career, I am not 100 percent satisfied with what I did, but I am glad I can continue in college and keep getting better.”
Wrestling coach Mike Caiazza knew Agostino’s potential from Day One and felt Agostino gave him four outstanding years, but said he still has an enormous amount of room to grow.
“He is an amazing all-around kid,” Caiazza said. “He’s been one of the most coachable kids I’ve been around and also one of the most talented. He is one of the exceptions to the rule when it comes to being successful at three different sports. It was amazing to watch. He had the ability to finish high in states as a senior for wrestling and I know it was a disappointing end for him. But once he focuses on one thing and really starts hitting the weights and going year-round with it, he is going to do great things. I don’t think he’s even close to reaching his potential yet.
“Other kids on the team looked up to him,” Caiazza added. “They all had great chemistry together. I know without him, the team as a whole would not have had the success it had. He was always an invaluable piece to holding everyone together.”
One highlight that will stick out in Agostino’s mind, he said, came sophomore year during an unprecedented run as the No. 9 seed in the Region 8 tournament.
“Nothing tops when I won that region title,” Agostino said. “Nothing.”
Baseball was certainly the most laid back of the three sports he played, but Agostino never stopped working hard to earn his place on the varsity squad throughout his career.
“I managed to transition from two exhausting sports to baseball pretty easily,” Agostino said. “Baseball is much more laid back and it’s almost like my offseason because it is so much less strain on the body.”
Earning second team all-Cape-Atlantic League seems pretty good for Agostino, as he was an important piece for the Eagles baseball team achieving its first 20-win season in 10 years and earning a spot in the South Jersey Group 4 tournament. Agostino got hot late in the season at the plate, and helped carry the Eagles to playoff wins over Kingsway and Clearview Regional before EHT’s run was stopped in the sectional semifinals with an extra-innings loss to eventual champion Southern Regional.
Now that his “Glory Days” are over, so to speak, Agostino will head to Rider University in the fall focusing solely on wrestling, and he’ll have four more years to achieve greatness.
“He’s competed in the ultimate team and individual sports,” Stetser said. “He’s going to be prepared that way. I’ve always felt once he gets to college and focuses on one, or maybe even two sports, it’s going to be really interesting to see how good he can be. I can’t wait to see him at the next level.”
To pick just one sport to pursue in college proved difficult, but Agostino knew in the end he would make the right decision for his future.
“It was really difficult to figure out where I was going and what sport I would continue with,” Agostino said. “I honestly never thought it would have been wrestling, but I am happy with the decision I made. It was probably the sport I was best at, and I really loved the school, so in the end it was the best choice for me.”
Despite preparing to achieve national goals at the Division I wrestling level, Agostino remains a hometown kid at heart as the countdown to move-in day continues.
“Senior year as a whole was pretty strange with all of the ups and downs, but in the end I am satisfied with a lot of things I accomplished,” Agostino said. “I will miss being able to play for my hometown, where I’ve spent all 18 years of my life.”
Follow Nick Kosko on Twitter @nickkosko59