|Title:||Class of 2011|
|Organization:||Wrestling and Football|
Raiders 9, Chargers 7. Please excuse wrestling coach and Hall of Famer Phil Grebinar if he forgets the score from that NFL Sunday Night Football game on Thanksgiving weekend of 1991. His wife, Dee, fielded a phone call that evening that suddenly made the football game a lot less important—seems that Matt Wassel was looking to transfer from West Point to wrestle and play football at WPI.
Wassel entered WPI in January 1992 and made an immediate impact on the wrestling program. He earned All-New England recognition by placing fifth at 167 lbs. His sophomore season proved to be one of the best in Engineers wrestling history. He went undefeated (14-0) in dual meets and was a New England champion at 167. He registered four pins and totaled the seventh most takedowns in school history (54).
His final two seasons also produced All-New England showings. Wassel was a New England finalist at 167 lbs. in 1994 as a junior and a year later placed at 158 lbs. as a senior. Even more impressive, he was a vital cog in helping WPI win back-to-back New England team championships for the first time in the program’s history. He wrapped up his career on the mat with a 35-10 overall dual-meet mark.
“Matt came to us as a West Point transfer in January of his freshman year,” says Grebinar. “His ability and toughness enabled him to become an immediate starter and contributor. As Matt thrived on the tough competitions, his desire to win had a positive effect on our wrestling team his entire career.”
Wassel was equally as impressive on the football field. Joining the program as a sophomore, he notched 27 tackles and four pass-breaks as the Engineers went 9-2 en route to winning the Freedom Football Conference and participating in the NCAA playoffs.
In 1993 the defensive back started all nine games as a junior as the Engineers again went undefeated in conference play. Wassel was second-team All-FFC and posted totals of 73 tackles, four interceptions, and a sack.
Matt’s senior season saw him add first-team, All-ECAC honors to go along with his second straight allconference selection. The team MVP and captain led the squad with an eye-popping 102 tackles to go along with an interception and a sack.
“Matt Wassel was the ultimate competitor,” says former head coach and now UMass head coach Kevin Morris. “He practiced and played the game with pride, always striving to make the football program better. Matt was an excellent leader on and off the field.”
A native of Walpole, Mass., Wassel graduated with a degree in biology. He teaches Fitness and Health at Wellesley High School and is the defensive coordinator for the King Philip High School football team. He has also coached wrestling for over 10 years and is currently a high school wrestling referee in Massachusetts.
He lives in his hometown of Walpole with his wife, Rachel, their children, Sophia and Chase, and their dogs, Brady and Sammy.