NEW PARIS – Ben Sullivan, the most decorated wrestler in National Trail history, committed to the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to serve the country and also continue his wrestling career.
Sullivan, the defending Division III state champion at 220 pounds, had been recruited by several other schools, but said the choice to attend West Point was made after he took an official visit the weekend of Oct. 15-16.
“It was a hard choice. I liked West Point. It’s a little stricter than a normal college,’ he said after a brief ceremony in the National Trail gym in front of family, friends and teammates.
Sullivan, who is ranked sixth in the country at 220 pounds going into this season, said it was important to sign early.
“I wanted to sign early and get it out of the way,” he said. “I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
Sullivan, who began wrestling at a young age when his father was the head coach at National Trail, becomes the first wrestler from Trail to sign at a Division I institution.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said of being the first Trail wrestler to sign at a D-I level.
Academics also come into play in the decision.
“West Point wrestling is second to academics. They have the degree I want. They’re the best engineering school in the country,” he said. “That influenced it.”
Sullivan, who has a career record of 100-10, was the state runner-up as a freshman and finished third his sophomore season.
He missed most of last season due to an injury he sustained during football season. Once he returned in early February he went 19-0 on his way to winning a state championship.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs. Second my freshman year is not what I wanted, and then third the next year was definitely not what I wanted,” he said. “But winning it last year was my goal. I’m just trying to take it one match at a time, still.”
National Trail coach Michael Eyler had high praise for his senior.
“I feel like I’ve repeated myself so many times with Ben. I can’t help it. He’s just an excellent athlete. He’s an excellent person. He’s an excellent student,” Eyler said. “To see him go from junior high and the success he had there and then that heart breaker his freshman year then fight back his junior year and get that state title finally. I know how excited he was about that.”
Eyler said Sullivan has a great work ethic and a strong belief in God.
“He’s very faithful. He has a strong belief in God and that drives him a lot,” Eyler said. “And I think there is a personal drive. There is a fire there that you don’t see in every athlete and I think that is what’s kind of sent him this far.”
That fire is leading Sullivan to a future a coach can definitely be proud of.
“To see him go D-I at such an elite institution like West Point, to see him get to continue what he loves, get a great education then serve our country — that’s impressive,” Eyler said. “I’m proud of him.”