Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Four More Dragons Finalize Plans to Play in College

John Nash

Four more Greens Farms Academy varsity athletes have announced their intentions to play sports at the collegiate level next fall.

Wresters Justin Mastroianni (New York University) and Aiden Hebert (Trinity College), sailing team member Sofia Segalla (UPenn) and cross country runner Hayley Nilsson (Tufts) will take their talents to the next level after graduating from GFA.

All told, 14 members of GFA’s Class of 2021 have secured plans to compete at the college level.

Mastroianni (New York University) and Hebert (Trinity) brings GFA’s wrestling commitments to four. The two will join Nico Provo (Cornell) and CJ Shea (Wesleyan) in competing at the college level.

At the end of the recruiting process, Mastroianni found himself looking at two schools: NYU and the Division I University of Michigan. Weighing all the pros and cons, though, it was the New York City school that won out.

“It was a last-minute decision,” Mastroianni said. “All my life, I was thinking of going D-I. I just thought NYU was a better fit for me, not just for my wrestling future but my success in life, as well.”

A public-school State Open champ and New England runner-up before transferring to GFA as a junior, Mastroianni has been consistently ranked as a Top 100 wrestler in his age group, according to GFA wrestling coach Jack Conroy. This spring, he won a New England regional wrestling championship, and will take part in the 2021 Prep Nationals, too.

For Hebert, a connection with the Trinity campus and the school's wrestling coach made the difference. He explained, "It’s a really good liberal arts school and just to connect with people there, in the wrestling room, it just feels like everything has come full circle."

One of the things Hebert appreciated most was the natural connection that he made with the coach — something he wasn't expecting.

“It was like I knew him,” he said. “The conversations were easy and we’d go on tangents about people we both knew. It didn’t feel staged or like it was a recruiting process. It felt like a conversation.”

Segalla’s recruiting process took her from coast to coast as she initially committed to a West Coast school that later defunded its sailing program. UPenn had been one of the first schools to recruit her and when her other opportunity fell through, the Quakers were still there with open arms.

“They said they would do everything within their power to get me in,” Segalla said. “They didn’t know if they could do it, but I had a lot of support from the Penn coach and that felt really nice. Once I got in, I knew I wanted to be a part of that team.”

Segalla hopes to major in computer science/cognitive science while at Penn.

Nilsson had always thought about running in college, but waited to find out where she was going to go before committing to a program.

She found it at Tufts, a Division III program in Boston where she can run cross country and track while majoring in pre-med.

“I had a list of schools at the beginning but I liked Tufts because of its location and the pre-med program,” said Nilsson, who has family in the city. “I knew I wanted to run in college, and I was going to do whatever it took to run no matter where I went, but I thought Tufts was definitely going to be a good option.”

The four join a group of 10 other GFA student athletes who have previously announced their decisions to compete at the college level.

Those Dragons include: Marygrace DelliSanti, who will play lacrosse at Gettysburg; Georgia Grabowski, who will be playing basketball at Ithaca College; Connor McDonald, who will play tennis at Boston College; Piper Melnick, who will row at California-Berkeley; Nico Provo, who will wrestle at Cornell; Mark Roszkowski, who will play baseball at Tufts; CJ Shea, who will wrestle for Wesleyan; Will Whelan, who will play soccer at Hobart; and Max Yates, who will play lacrosse at Colgate.

Earlier this winter, girls basketball standout and 2020 Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year Allie Palmieri started her basketball career at Boston College.

"I am so proud of all our senior scholar athletes," GFA Athletic Director Tauni Butterfield said. "To have so many committed athletes this year, with more to come, is just so exciting for the school community. I applaud all their hard work on and off the court, field, and mat. I know they will continue to make the school proud as they play at the next level."