NJCAA wrestling champ Nassau CC is built for success
By MARCUS HENRY firstname.lastname@example.org
Article that appeared in Newsday on 3/3/2013
Consistency has been the name of the game for the Nassau Community College wrestling program. And the squad added another piece of championship hardware to its trophy case after capturing the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship last weekend at the Jacobson Center in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the second straight national championship and fifth overall for Nassau CC.
"We've been fortunate," Lions coach Paul Schmidt said. "We get a good crop of wrestlers every year."
Leading the way for the Lions was sophomore James DeKrone, a Glenn graduate who was crowned national champion after beating Zach Loveless, 7-6, in the 141-pound final.
He was joined by five other wrestlers who earned All-American status.
Division graduates John Pellegrino (125) and Yaseen Mudassar (285), and Hauppauge graduate Chanse Menendez (174) all took second place. Islip graduate Kyle Wade (149) was sixth and East Islip grad Ian MacIneirghe finished seventh at 197 pounds. The success of the program has made it easier for Schmidt to assemble the talent needed to compete at a high level. "I don't have to spend as much time recruiting," Schmidt said. "We have a good enough track record of sending kids to the next level with scholarships that they want to come here."
Schmidt noted the ongoing success of a few former Nassau CC wrestlers, including Ryan Fox and Joe DeAngelo, who both earned scholarships to North Carolina State, and Mac Maldarelli, who attends Lock Haven University on a wrestling scholarship. Anthony Abidin, who won the 133-pound NJCAA national championship last year and chose to redshirt this season, is headed to Nebraska on scholarship in the fall. In addition to the droves of talented wrestlers Schmidt has coached since being promoted to head coach in 1996, he attributed some of the program's success to his assistant coaches, most of whom were championship-caliber wrestlers themselves. Current assistant Sam Thomas was a NJCAA All-American, Vougar Oroudjon was a two-time world champion and Olympic Bronze medalist, and Chris Edmond, a former member of the staff, was a Division I national champion at Tennessee.
"I have outstanding assistant coaches," Schmidt said. "When you have world championship coaches as your assistants it makes things easier."
Schmidt also credits Nassau CC's reputation as one of the country's top community colleges as a reason for the program's success. "Nassau CC is very good academically," Schmidt said. "It has a true academic foundation and is very attractive to Division I coaches."
For the first time in school history Nassau Community College had ten wrestlers in the finals of the NJCAA District 11 Championships. Despite a major snowstorm on the day of the event and a hurricane known as Sandy to start the season, Nassau was able to overcome all the adversity thrown at them. With six out of state teams arriving a day earlier before the snow storm, it was possible to hold the event..
During the year you don’t hear much about the team but they are competing every weekend against some of the best competition on the east coast. A typical weekend a Nassau wrestlers is wrestling some of the best Division I and Division III wrestlers in the country.
This weekend, the team really showed their character and their ability, by winning the National Qualifying tournament in a landslide. With the return of a couple of wrestlers from the injury list and two wrestlers dropping down in weight, the lineup fell into place. All year long, John Pellegrino (125lbs) has been someone that you can count on to give the team credibility right from the start. John is currently ranked 4th in the NJCAA with a 17-7 record. He lost his final match 3-2 on a controversial call in the final second against Jamel Sharp (Darton College) who has a record of 25-1. John should be one of the favorites going into the National tournament. At 133lbs Steven Drew won his first tournament of the year, after a very good week of practice Steve upset two top seeds to win the District Championship. He will be going into the National tournament with a very good seed. At 141lbs James DeKrone, a two time NYS finalist and NYS Champion made the drop down to 141lbs for the qualifying tournament, he has slowly been dropping his weight down even while he wrestled 149lbs the whole season. James a true freshman has had a tremendous year on the mat with a record of 24-4 going into the championship. He should be one of the favorites at the NJCAA tournament. At 149lbs Kyle Wade returned to action after a two month injury, even though it was his first tournament of the season Kyle was able to win the District Championship by beating Robert Lanno (Gloucester CC) 11-3 in the finals. Kyle another NYS Champion and two time NYS finalist will surprise many at the national tournament. He has another two weeks to prepare himself for a shot at the title.
At 157lbs Adam DeJesus a red shirt freshman,finished second at the District meet, Adam has had to deal with a lot of issues this semester, since his family had to be relocated out of their home in Long Beach because of Hurricane Sandy. Adam has been in out of the lineup this year but is looking like he’s ready to make a run at being an NJCAA All American. At 165lbs Juan Carlos Diaz has lost only one match since dropping down to weight, his overtime victory against Trent Williams (Spartenburg Methodist) the number one seed at the District championships, put him in position to do very well at the NJCAA National Championships. At 174lbs, Chance Menendez the third NYS Champion in Nassau’s lineup, just returned to the line-up after being out for over a month with injuries. Chance once again showed why he has been successful at all levels by winning the District Title. Chance is 9-1 for the season with a very good chance at placing very high at the National tournament. At 184lbs Frank Merante in his second year at Nassau, Frank made the trip last year to the National Championships and is looking to be one of the top wrestlers in the country, he definitely showed that he is one to be reckoned with this weekend by dominating all his opponents. At 197lbs Ian MacIneirghe has really turned the corner the last few weeks, he placed second in the NJCAA Invitational and won the District Championship this past weekend. At 285lbs Yaseen Mudassar the number one ranked heavyweight in Junior College has had a tremendous year, he is being heavily recruited by many Division 1 and Division 2 colleges. This weekend, once again he showed why he’s the number one heavy weight in the country by trouncing his opponents. Yaseen is 18-2 for the season. By the way Yasseen is one of the three Division Ave High School wrestlers in the starting line-up, the other two are John Pellegrino and Juan Diaz.
Many Nassau wrestlers are competing at the next level this year, 125lbs Joe DeAngelo (No. Carolina State), 125lbs Ricardo Gomez (Ithaca), 149lbs Kodie Silvestri (Wartburg),149lbs Mac Malderelli (Lock Haven University),165lbs Ryan Fox (North Carolina State), 174lbs Jules Doliscar (Ithaca), 197lbs Musa DeResse (Hunter), 285 Leon Bowden (Hunter). Anthony Abidin is committed to wrestle at Nebraska next year.