EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 19, 2013

Boosting women's college wrestling

Ex-Whittier star Constantine thriving on, off mat at King College

By Dave Dyer
ddyer@eagletribune.com

---- — If she’s interested, there could definitely be college wrestling in the future for North Andover senior Danielle Coughlin.

And King College (Bristol, Tenn.) junior Shannon Constantine, for one, encourages Coughlin to pursue it.

Constantine, you’ll remember, is the former Whittier Tech standout who, even more than Phillips Academy grad Kassie Archambault before her. paved the path that Coughlin followed.

At Whittier, Constantine compiled a three-year record of 61-34 and had an outstanding senior season, going 28-3 with 15 pins. That last year, she was Outstanding Wrestler at the Tyngsboro Tournament and may have preceded Coughlin as the first-ever girl state champ if she hadn’t suffered a season-ending concussion.

Constantine also fared well at national tournaments, winning the Girls High School Nationals in Michigan, an accomplishment that caught the eye of King coach Jason Moorman.

“We were looking at a girl from Virginia and Shannon beat her and really impressed me,” said Moorman. “I liked the aggressive way she went after it.”

That led to a partial scholarship offer, which she gladly accepted. She had wanted to wrestle in college anyway and King College proved a golden opportunity. It’s one that she would urge Coughlin, or anyone in her situation, to pursue.

“I would encourage anyone to give it a try,” said Constantine. “It’s a great experience to be a college athlete. If you have goals, it’s for you and you get to travel and do a lot that you can’t do as a (regular) student. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Constantine’s goal is to be a national (woman’s) champion and Moorman believes she can do it next year. She has a three-year record of 31-11 and finished fourth this year at 101 pounds at the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association nationals.

“I feel I’ve gotten better and improved a lot, but I still need to get better,” said Constantine.

Of course, King College might not appeal to Coughlin. The good news is that woman’s college wrestling is growing. Four years ago, there were only 12 teams in the WCWA while now there are 21 with more showing interest.

King, in its fourth year, has quickly become one of the more successful programs. It was 20-3 in Constantine’s sophomore year, finishing second at the nationals and third this year while compiling a 16-3 record.

One change that most female wrestlers need to make in college is that they must wrestle freestyle rather than folkstyle.

“It’s definitely a transition, but it didn’t take that long to get used to it,” said Constantine. “It’s actually a lot more wide open.”

To keep the program on the rise, Moorman does a fair amount of recruiting. He checks the four states that have offered girls high school wrestling (Texas, California, Hawaii and Washington), but he prefers girls who wrestle on boys teams.

“We have a lot of girls who wrestled boys in our program,” said Moorman. “They seem to have more intensity and I like that.”

That’s confirmed by Constantine.

“Going from (wrestling) boys to girls was a big transition,” said Constantine, who is majoring in sports management and would like to coach in the future. “The boys are stronger and go with more intensity. I had to get used to it and stay focused.”

Constantine, who is currently training for the open University nationals, still practices with males in the summer at The Barn in Danville, where she did much of her high school training. She plans on continuing there whenever she can.

“I still have a lot of work to do to get my No. 1 goal (become a national champion) and I get so much out of going to the Barn,” she said. “It’s the best.”

The Shannon Constantine file Hometown: Haverhill High school; Whittier Tech, had three-year record of 61-34 including 28-3 as a senior King College: Junior with a three-year record of 31-11, finished third at Missouri Valley Open and fourth at WCWA nationals this year at 101 pounds Major/future plans: Majoring in sports management and would like to be a coach