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Elijah Sims: grappling with adversity

Photo Credit: Brockport Athletics

By Michael Rose | Sports Writer

Elijah Sims has had anything but a linear journey throughout his college career. Sims came into the Brockport program recruited by longtime head coach Don Murray and associate coach Bill Jacoutot. Sims says initially Jacoutot had questions about his viability at the college level.

“Honestly Jacoutot didn’t even really want me to come here because I barely won my sectional match,” Sims said. “I beat the kid by like a point and he was like ‘oh this kid isn’t that good.’ So, I came in here like I had to prove something. So, I competed, I did well. I beat a couple ranked guys at 133 and I felt very confident with those coaches. They were the guidance I needed.”

Sims eventually moved up in weight and made its mark, claiming a regional title at 141 pounds in 2020 before the national tournament was cancelled. Following that season, Sims failed out of school and stepped away from the sport.

“I came back during the COVID year in the fall, and I failed out,” Sims said. “My roommates and I just sat around and were lazy. So, I didn’t come back in the spring, after that I just worked. I was working three jobs back home. I stopped going to school and I didn’t wrestle. I got really out of shape. Just a lot of self reflection after that of why I failed it. It was clear there was a reason, and I was the reason.”

Eventually Jacoutot, who had been elevated to interim head coach following Murray’s retirement, reached out to Sims.

“He started calling me and saying, ‘Eli you need to come back and get your degree. You’ve worked too hard, and it would be a shame.’ He started calling me every morning after my night shifts. Eventually I came back, and I connected with the team a little bit more. I don’t know why but I really enjoyed it here. I was very untrusting of people, and they changed my mindset,” Sims said.

With his return, came Sims long awaiting the chance to compete at nationals. He qualified this season at 149 where he finished 1-2.

‘It was interesting,” Sims said. “Obviously, there is going to be a high level of competition no matter what. Everybody there is a champion, everybody has won tournaments before. So, a little more pressure I feel like. It’s also your last tournament for me ever. Last time I got a chance, it was 2020. I told my coach ‘it’s been three f*cking years’ cause I was so pissed. So, I was really, really happy to be able to compete at the national tourna- ment because I put in the work and never got to reap the rewards, so it was awesome.”

Sims is set to graduate in the fall following an internship. He is hoping to be a graduate assistant at another college as he pursues a masters in sports management. Sims, through all his ups and downs over the years, feels grateful for what he’s been able to learn.

“Life is going to get hard but it’s not going to wait for you. You have to roll with the punches and stay disciplined,” Sims said.

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