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Former Ursinus College wrestling standout Daniel Manganaro passes away

Ursinus College Athletics is devastated by the recent loss of former standout student-athlete Daniel Manganaro.

Earlier this month Manganaro '15, a star on the Bears' wrestling team, was reported to have been one of two men paddling in a canoe on Seneca Lake in New York when the canoe overturned. Despite intense recovery efforts, he was never found.

"Dan was one of a kind," said longtime Ursinus assistant coach Pat Curry '01. "Whenever he walked into a room, he became the center of attention. There was just something about his presence, his attitude, his smile, and that hair. People were always just naturally drawn to him. Mango enjoyed every day of his life and you could see it just by looking at him."

Daniel Manganaro
Manganaro was a standout on the mat for the Bears. He reached the 184-pound Centennial Conference title bout all four years of his career, claiming gold as a sophomore in 2013, and was a three-time place-winner at the NCAA East Regional championship. During Manganaro's time with the program, Ursinus lost only two conference duals and captured back-to-back CC crowns in 2013 and 2014.

In 2015, Manganaro received the Chris Clifford Award, given to the senior wrestler who accumulated the most career points at the CC tournament. That year, he was runner-up at regionals to earn his first career bid to the NCAA championships, where he upset the No. 5 national seed in the opening round.

"I'll never forget when Dan qualified for nationals," Curry said. "He was so close the year before, losing in the 3rd place match by a point in overtime. The next day he was out there training on his own and I asked him what he was doing and his simple response was 'I am never letting that happen to me again.' His senior year, he didn't - he took second at the qualifier and made it to nationals."

For teammate Chris Donaldson, the trip to nationals was the culmination of a pact between the two of them and Richie Jasinski, the team's three seniors. It was also a richly deserved reward for someone who had magnified the joy when Donaldson had earned a place at nationals two years prior.

"I got back to campus around dinner time," Donaldson recalls. "As soon as I got back to our dorm room Mango had decorated the room congratulating me. He also immediately picked me up and carried me to Wismer and ran me around the whole dining hall while people cheered and congratulated me. He was just that type of person - he loved seeing his friends reach their goals and celebrating with them.

"Fast forward to senior year, all three seniors had the goal from freshman year of going to nationals together. This was our last year to make it happen. I was so proud and happy when Dan qualified for nationals, especially since it was going to be in our own back yard at the Hershey Arena. I was able to return the favor and celebrate with him. I remember picking him up right after his match and carrying him up the stairs. We had finally reached our goal of all being able to experience Division III nationals."

An exercise and sport science major, Manganaro also excelled in the classroom, garnering Scholar All-America recognition from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). He recently graduated from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and was set to begin his career as a surgeon at a Philadelphia hospital.

"He was one of the brightest I've ever worked with," said Dr. Richard Terry, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at LECOM. "A wonderful human being who would have made a wonderful physician."

Classmates, teammates, and coaches remember Dan as someone who always put others first, for his cheerful smile and his heart of gold.

"The word 'athlete' is derived from the Greek word "athlein" which means 'competes for a prize,'" said Chelsy (Paulose) Heydt '15, a former wrestling manager and friend of Manganaro. "Dan is the ultimate athlete. He conquered every situation like it was the championships. For Dan, there was no practice round, no semifinals. Everything he did was as if he was going for that trophy. He gave it his all no matter if he was on the mat for practice or for a tournament. He would take tests or do labs as if it was his final thesis. He had fun and celebrated like the world would end tomorrow. He loved and protected his family and friends like he would win a medal for it. Dan gave his all in every aspect of his life."

Perhaps most of all, Manganaro was renowned for his hair, a curly mop that often drew the ire of the late, great Bill Racich.

"He would always drive Coach Racich nuts about the length of his hair," Curry said. "The rule back then was that your hair could not be past your eyebrows in the front and below your neck in the back. I'll never forget Mango said to Coach one day, 'If I don't win, I will let you cut my hair' with this huge smile on his face. Dan of course won that match and gave a little smile over at Coach Racich as he was getting his hand raised."

Colleen Fida, Ursinus' Assistant Director of Annual Giving and a fellow 2015 graduate, said Manganaro was an unforgettable person who lived for others.

"From his kind heart that always put others before himself, to his cheerful smile and ability to light up every room he entered … he's a soul that's impossible to forget. He had a heart of gold, constantly thinking of his family and friends and looking for ways to make them smile, laugh, or help them in some way. I personally have Dan to thank for teaching me how to study more efficiently and ultimately helping me to pass a few tests that I thought I was doomed for. Mind you, the many times he spent helping me, he was putting off studying for his anatomy tests coming up the following day and yep, you guessed it, that genius still aced them all!"

Manganaro's infectious spirit even left an indelible mark on the Bears' rivals.

"He was a fierce competitor and impossible not to love," Stevens coach Mike Clayton said. "Even when he was beating up on a Duck."

One thing is certain: The man they called Mango will never be forgotten.

"Dan Manganaro was an exceptional person who always pushed you to be a better version of yourself," Donaldson said. "He had a unique personality and ability about him that if you met him once you never forgot him. He will be missed but never forgotten."

"The world has lost a wonderful person, but Heaven has gained one great soul," Fida said. "Rest In Peace, Mango... we will miss you so much."

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