Men's Sports Sports

Jac St. Jean’s remarkable milestone of 100 wins in just three seasons

By Garrett Cote

Jacques St. Jean etched his name into Springfield College wrestling history last weekend during the Pride’s dual meet with WPI. Heading into the day needing just two wins to reach 100 career wins, St. Jean picked up two convincing victories – 9-3 and 12-3 – in what were his last two matches of his shortened career.

Yes, shortened.

Not only did St. Jean eclipse the century mark; he did it in only three seasons (no junior year due to COVID-19).

“He’s been very consistent with us wrestling the last four years. Well, really the last three,” said Pride head coach Jason Holder, who was at the helm for all of St. Jean’s Springfield College career. 

“It’s pretty crazy he’s only wrestled for three years and he has 100 wins. That hasn’t happened since I’ve been coaching. That’s extremely impressive.”

As the waning moments ticked away during St. Jean’s final match, his emotions began to take control knowing it would be the last time he wore THE jersey.

“I remember when the whistle blew and I kind of just looked up at the score and realized I had won,” St. Jean said. “I turned over to the guys on the bench and the crowd and that was when I really started to break. That’s when I realized that this was it for me. It was really special.”

When St. Jean arrived on Alden Street, his impact was immediate both on and off the mat. Whether it was being a vocal leader in the room or placing in the top-five of seemingly every tournament he competed in, he was constantly turning the heads of the coaching staff. 

“He came in as a leader right away,” Holder said. “He speaks his mind and will let you know how he’s feeling and what people should be doing. 

“He’s big on accountability. He will hold himself and others accountable and that’s great for our culture… And in these tournaments during his freshman year, he was getting a lot of wins which was surprising to us because he didn’t have a lot of experience at the collegiate level.”

It wasn’t much longer until Holder and the staff became accustomed to St. Jean’s winning ways. He finished his first year with a 38-5 record. St. Jean followed that up with a sophomore campaign of 34-12 before wrapping up his career going 28-9 as a senior. Out of the 100 wins St. Jean tallied, 41 of them came by way of pinfall.

And, on top of his outstanding efforts on the mat, St. Jean has been recognized as a NWCA Scholar All-American in each of his four years wrestling for the Pride – the definition of a true student-athlete.

“One thing he (St. Jean) should be proud of is he’s only the second four-time scholar All-American we’ve ever had,” Holder said. “That can be very difficult to keep that consistency going.”

But St. Jean’s winning ways didn’t come easy. During his middle school years, he wasn’t the most talented kid, in fact, he lost many more matches than he won. At a dual meet with his club team when he was in seventh grade, St. Jean was given a total of seven matches. Disappointingly, he lost every single one of them and went 0-7 on the day.

“We went down to Danbury, Conn. for a dual tournament, and I was just there to get exhibitions,” St. Jean said. 

“I got like seven matches and didn’t win a single one. (My coach) was trying to find something positive so he asked how long I’ve been wrestling and I told him six years, so he probably was thinking in his head, ‘I don’t know if this sport is for him.’

Except St. Jean didn’t care. He loved the sport. He continued to work, continued to train and hit his stride soon after. Things started to click in high school when he won two Division II New Hampshire state championships and an All-state title. That’s when Holder took notice and began his recruiting process on St. Jean.

“His high school coach called me and said, ‘You’ve got to get on this guy, he’s pretty tough and he’s a state champ,’” Holder recalled. 

“So I reached out the summer going into his senior year and told him to come visit and check out the campus. We got him here for his visit and apparently, this campus was a good fit for him so he came here. And we’re lucky he did.”

Looking past the pure relentlessness and motivation St. Jean possesses, which certainly led him to his success, he credits his parents, Craig and Katie, for a good portion of the achievements he was able to collect over the course of his career with the Pride.

“They pushed me through it all, they have supported me through everything,” he said. 

“My dad introduced me to wrestling, and I remember when he asked me if I wanted to start and the first thing I said to him was ‘can I use a chair?’ because I was so used to watching pro-wrestling with my dad.”

Because each team is only allowed to send one wrestler from each weight class to the NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament, St. Jean will have to take a backseat to fellow 141-pounder and classmate Chris Trelli – who was an All-American two years ago. Instead of dwelling on missing out, St. Jean will now take initiative in the practice room to improve his teammates through intense training.

“I’m more excited now in these next two weeks to wrestle with the guys in the room and get some of the starters ready for regionals because I know they’re really going to tear it up,” St. Jean said.

Set to graduate in May of 2022, St. Jean has plans to move back to his hometown of Goffstown, New Hampshire. From there, he will continue training at the New England Professional Wrestling Academy (NEPWA) in North Andover, Mass., a professional wrestling school he has had ties with since June 2020.

“I’m really excited to go back into (training at the NEPWA) and hopefully become a successful professional wrestler,” St. Jean said. 

“I also kind of find it funny that I came full circle with that, when I started wrestling [pro wrestling is] what I thought I was getting myself into. Now I’m actually doing that. I’ll be hitting the ropes and maybe swinging a few chairs.”

Wrapping up his collegiate career with his entire support group looking on was the cherry on top for St. Jean, although the ending did bring forth many emotions.

“To end my career with two wins was just really great,” he said. “It was great to have the majority of the guys on the team there, coach Holder, my parents and my girlfriend. It was a really sweet moment for me, and I’m definitely going to miss this sport, but I will always be around it.”

Despite St. Jean not ever placing first in any tournament, his career was nothing short of remarkable, and he won’t let anybody tell him differently.

“One of my family friends reached out to me and sent me a quote by (former professional wrestler) Mick Foley saying, ‘I get to define for myself what being a success is,’” St. Jean said. 

“And I think that over my college career and the entirety of my career, I was able to carve my own path and define that success. Yeah, I’m not an All-American or a National qualifier, but I’m a 100-win wrestler and a four-time Scholar All-American, and I define that as a success.”

Photo: Springfield College Athletics

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