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Sean Conklin Sean Conklin
Inducted: 2009 - Graduated: 1995




Sean Conklin starred for five years on the wrestling mats and three years on the football gridiron, but perhaps his most stellar feat was recovering from a potentially career-ending injury to win a Sectional wrestling title with only a few weeks’ preparation time.

During the latter part of the 1993 football season, in his junior year, Sean began limping noticeably while running. When the condition persisted, he was forced to sit out the last two games of the season. Following a full medical evaluation, a preliminary concern about bone cancer was ruled out and Sean was diagnosed with a major separation of the symphysis pubic joint – a painful injury, to say the least.

After being sidelined for 10 weeks, Sean was granted a special waiver by Section 1 and New York State to enter the Divisional Tournament, the first step in the State tournament system. Unable to run but given the green light to weight train, Sean lifted hard from the middle of January until the Divisional in February. Off of that limited preparation, he won the Divisional, taking the final over an undefeated (31-0) wrestler from R. C. Ketcham and earning Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. Amazingly, he proceeded to capture the 126-pound crown in the Section 1 tournament and advance to the New York State tournament.

“The previous year I had won the Sections, and I had something to prove as defending Sectional champ,” Sean says. “I took that very personally. Winning was very important to me. The Division tournament was at Nanuet and I was wrestling in my own gym, with a lot of supporters. That helped make my comeback successful.”

During Sean’s five-year varsity wrestling career, he won three Rockland County and three Section 1 titles from 98 to 126 lbs., was a two-time State place-winner (fifth and sixth), and compiled a career record of 136 victories and only 18 losses. He is still among the all-time Rockland leaders in victories and “would’ve had another 35 wins if not for the injury,” says Rich Conklin, Sean’s dad and his coach in both wrestling and football.

Some of Sean’s stats defy belief. Outside of the State tournament, his record after his freshman year was 77-1. (His only loss was in the finals of the prestigious Kohl Tournament his senior year). From his sophomore year on, he won 13 of 14 tournaments outside of States.

His won-lost records were mighty impressive, too: as an eighth-grader, he went 28-6 wrestling at 91 lbs.; as a freshman, 26-4 (98 lbs.); as a sophomore, 34-3 (112 lbs.), with all three losses coming at States; as a junior, 7-2 (126 lbs.), with most of the season lost to injury; and as a senior, 41-3 with 31 pins. Nanuet was league champion four of those five years with a composite 47-7 team record.

While many wrestlers like to breathe fire to rouse themselves before matches, Sean took the opposite tack. “He is one of the quietest, most competitive kids I’ve coached,” says Rich Conklin. “Other kids would be bouncing around but he would be sitting on the bench with his Walkman. I would say to him, ‘For God’s sake, get ready.’ Just before the match he would take his Walkman off and once he did … look out.”

“Rather than burn out my energy beforehand,” Sean says, “I liked to stay relaxed and calm, and have a completely different mindset.” Believe it or not, wrestling was not even Sean’s favorite sport. “I had more ability in wrestling and did well in the weight classes, but I liked football better,” says Sean, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighed in at 160 lbs. for football. “What I lacked in size I gained in speed and work ethic.”

Sean was a first-team All-New York State defensive back for the 1994 football team, which went 9-1, won the Section 1 Class C and Regional titles and advanced to the State semifinals. He led the team in solo and total tackles, and was an offensive force as well. He was the team’s leading pass receiver and punt returner and second-leading rusher behind Troy Black.

Sean served as captain of that ’94 club and also captained the wrestling team his junior and senior years. “He had a charisma of leadership in both football and wrestling that his teammates respected,” says his dad. “Once the whistle blew on the mat or the ball was in the air, he was ready to go.”

Having his dad coach him in two different sports was challenging but ultimately rewarding. “Everything was done to help me become a better wrestler and better person,” says Sean, a Jerry Leo Memorial and Black & Gold scholarship recipient. “He pushed me and my brothers hard. There were certain things that other teammates got away with, but he was more strict with us.”

After graduating from Nanuet, Sean earned a partial scholarship to Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and wrestled in the 134-lb. weight class. Bloomsburg is in the Eastern Wrestling League, one of the most competitive collegiate circuits in the country. Sean graduated from Bloomsburg in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology. Sean, who’s 32, lives in West Nyack and teaches fifth grade at Upper Nyack Elementary School.

Sean treasures the unflagging support he received from the Nanuet community. He also holds special memories of his older brother Chris, whose untimely recent death at age 35 saddened many in this closeknit community. “Having my older brother Chris be successful pushed me and made me want to do better,” says Sean, specifically citing Chris’s influence in wrestling. “I wanted to be there next to him, to be with him in the finals of a tournament.