The polls for the Rockland wrestler of the year have closed, with Pearl River junior John Muldoon receiving 63 percent of the vote for a convincing win. Now that we’ve completed the polls for both Westchester/Putnam and Rockland wrestlers of the year, I’ll take the next week or so to mull over my decisions. In the meantime, I also have to hand out awards for coaches of the year, which will be no easy task, either.
Here are my top four candidates for Westchester/Putnam coach of the year:
• Will Carano, Putnam Valley: The Tigers have seen continued progress under Carano, who has developed this program into a section title contender in Division 2. Many assumed that it would be Nanuet and Edgemont fighting it out for first place, but Put Valley jumped into the top two. After finishing with three section champs in Noah Kelvas, Chris Bruno and John Messinger, the Tigers may be in position to win a D2 title outright next season. They seem to get better each and every year, and that’s a testament to Carano’s leadership and focus.
• Mike DeBellis, Horace Greeley: Few times in recent seasons have the Quakers been mentioned as one of the top programs in Section 1, but they stepped up their game this year. DeBellis continued to work hard through the tough times, and it paid off this season with Greeley finishing eighth in Division 1. Five wrestlers placed, serving as evidence that DeBellis has developed depth with several guys who can compete at a high level within the section. Guys seem to be buying in, and the result is a program on the rise.
• Anthony Rodrigues, Fox Lane: Rodrigues had big shoes to fill replacing the winningiest coach in Section 1 history after Joe Amuso’s retirement, but the transition went seamlessly. Many expected this to be a slight rebuilding year for the Foxes with three state place finishers having graduated, but they were once again one of the most consistent teams in the area. A-Rod guided Fox Lane to a third place finish in the Section 1 duals and a third place finish at sectionals, proving that his team had both depth and high-end talent. He was probably the only guy who could have stepped in for Amuso without any hiccups because of his familiarity with the program.
• John Tornambe, Yorktown: Under the guidance of Tornambe, the Huskers have reach new heights as a program. Their second place finish in D1 was the highest in team history, thanks in large part to a group of seniors that Tornambe has mentored and developed into high quality wrestlers. No other coach could claim that he sent four state qualifiers to Albany except for Tornambe, who had Joe Mastro, Thomas Murray, Steven Sabella and David Varian all earn their way into the state tourney. That’s a reflection of the commitment that Tornambe has garnered from his wrestlers since taking over the program.
Don’t forget to cast your votes!