Poll: Who should be the Westchester/Putnam coach of the year?


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!


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  1. Hands down Tornambe. He took a program that was struggling and built a great team. He had the highest sectional finish in school history, more section champs in one year then probably in history combined, first state placers ever- all with a group that he coached since modified. He did it in a district with no real support.

  2. ChiefWildEagle on

    For all the reasons stated above, John Tornambe. Took a program that was a doormat and turned it into a top contender and did it all without a real place to practice and without working in the district.

  3. All these guys did a great job but Carano started and runs a kids program, oversees the modified closely and his kids are always in top shape as well as technically outstanding wrestlers such as Messinger who beat the D1 section champ. They will be better next year also. Carano is a class act who never wants the credit but always gives to his wrestlers…a totally complete coach who was a great wrestler himself!

  4. Tornambe is good coach but had 4 state qualifiers two all state and a few seniors that carried Yorktown this year. Same with Rodrigues, where there has always been talent in the room for fox lane. Carano has consistently produced a quality team each year and has gotten better and better and can easily win a section title next year as a team

  5. Carano hands down. Had no wrestlers in 5 out of 15 weights still gets second. Almost every wrestler at sections placed. Next years team looks even better.

  6. Hate to say it, but the way Rodrigues took this program to a top 3 finish really impressed me. I personally counted FL out.

  7. I personally say it between debelis and Carano. Both took over dead programs and brought them back to life. I go with debelis just because they started at same point, and if greely was in d2 they probably would have finished 2nd while Putnam valley wouldn’t have placed as high in d1. Askren, degl, boxer have a lot to do with the other two programs success.

  8. If your going to give a Greely coach the award give it to Anthony Totora he is the reason for their success not debellis

  9. All the good Yorktown kids went to boxer for like 3 years, then to max, then when max left degl

  10. LCB thats not true at all. you would be shocked to know how much debellis does for our guys. bending over backwards is an understatement.


  11. Coach Rogers on

    LCB Mike Debellis has a great staff and that is huge for any program. Being a head coach is not all wrestling, it is management. Coach Debellis and his staff have done a wonderful job making the Horace Greely program tough. I also was impressed with Yorktown, Putnam Valley and Fox Lane for being mentioned. I am very happy to see Coach Carano’s program rise because I remember how hard he worked for Put Valley in the past. One program not mentioned that should be is Hen Hud.

  12. If you know that mastro has been at degls for 7 years, you probably know all the Yorktown kids I was referring to. Geeze

  13. Well we can go back and forth who has done what with each program.If you ask me there asstiants are the best coaches on Yorktown,Fox Lane,Horace Greely.Just ask the kids they know who there best coach isHands down asstiants are the better coaches on all theese programs.

  14. Being a head coach very little of what you do is hands on teaching in a one on one environment. Lots of it is behind the scenes paperwork, organizing tournaments, dealing with administration because little billy skipped third period, that kind of stuff. Assistants come in work with the wrestlers hands on then go home. In college it’s even more exaggerated as you see head coaches not even in the corner for many of their wrestlers at tournaments.

    It’s very similar to a CEO of a company with 40 offices and an office manager of one of those offices. One deals with the whole program while the other deals hands on with the employees.

  15. Coach Rogers on

    Last to leave every night. Being a head coach is all that. All four of the coaches mentioned run solid teams. Teams are made up of multiple personalities, abilities and interests. Add in more paperwork for certification, record keeping, school rules, med cards, state seeding, tourney entrance fees, work orders, equipment requisitions, transportation, off season, youth wrestling, wrestling camp brochures, skin forms, angry parent of over weight kid, out of their mind parent who thinks their kid is an absolute angel, booster club, section responsibilities, news interviews, morning honor weigh ins, new years break, snow board injuries, etc. Those are just a few of the things a head coach has to deal with! Hats off to Mike, Anthony, John and Will for having great seasons as the head coaches….hands down!!!

  16. Amen, Coach Rogers. A few additional head coach activities I’ve witnessed … getting kids wrestling shoes that can’t afford them, shuttling wrestlers back and forth when they have no means of transportation, brokering extra exhibition matches for kids that may not be in the starting lineup (even though he’s already coaching 100+ matches in a 2-day duals tournament), words of encouragement or the occasional bear hug when most needed setting the right tone with appropriate disciplinary actions when a team member crosses the line. etc…

    We owe plenty of gratitude to the head coaches for their dedication and commitment!

  17. Tornambe was the first to work with these kids not digel or max. He built a program from scratch without a wrestling room! He deserves this award hands down.

  18. Desert cowboy on

    Yeah and sabella never qualified for sectionals till he went there, then the next 2 years he ended up a 2x section champ.

  19. ChiefWildEagle on

    Riverindian is right on. Also, Willie Carano is a great coach BUT let us not forget that all Put Valley’s success has been on the little stage. There is a very BIG difference between D1 and d2 in this section and Put Valley is not exactly Nanuet.

  20. Desert cowboy on

    Built a program from scratch? Didn’t they have a section champ in mike ahearn the year before and weren’t they coached by the westlake coach? How is that building from scratch. Putnam valley no program ever…..that is starting from scratch.

  21. @ChiefWildEagle= Messinger beat Murray from Yorktown, a D1 Section Champ. Not bad for a guy who has only been on the “little stage”. I like ALL the coaches mentioned but Carano would be just as successful if he were in a school that had D1 numbers….he does outstanding with what he is given!

  22. they wrestle 10 times Murray wins 9 ,that was his worst match of the year .Who placedin thestate when it counted

  23. Just a Fact,

    Didn’t Murray and Messinger both lose first round matches and wrestle back to the consi finals? Murray 3rd, Mesinger 4th?

  24. Desert Cowboy – Sabella went to Degl a handful of times and the same with Max. He was injured the last two offseasons and barely wrestled. He put his time in with a trainer at a local gym, not with Degl or Max. Tornambe brought this team together since they were in seventh grade and deserves it more than anyone. This is D1, not D2 where you don’t even have to qualify for sectionals – there are no divisionals – everyone moves to sectionals…COME ON!!

  25. Didn’t Put Valley place 3rd at John John Patriot Tournament with some strong D1 schools such as Newburgh, John Jay, Clarkstown South, Harrison, Highland, etc? Just don’t think its fair to leave someone out just cause they’re D2. Carano is an excellent coach hands down….to keep it real, I’d be happy to have any one of these guys coach my kid (5 years old) but only Debellis and Carano run lil kids program which is a HUGE commitment on top of their Head Coaching Duties which if anyone has been paying attention to another stellar coach (Rogers) who laid out exactly what these guys do!!!

  26. Off topic- but does anyone know if any of the Section place finishers are ever going to receive their medals?

  27. ok where to start , I would guess many would be happy with any of the coaches above , yet one stands out. Will Carano , the man started the program . Thats right started it , so there was no program before him . Can the others claim that . The pool that he has to choose from is no doubt smaller then the others . His teams rarely have a full squad at all the weights (including this year ) yet the take 2nd. His school has a reputation for the lacrosse program so the kids go where the hype is , lax. Yet he is changing the culture and drawing more athlete’s into his program every year , the more success it has . As I see it success draws attention, and as we all see it, his program is successful more are taking a second look . He not only runs the Varsity team but runs J.V. and for the last few years a youth program that is responsible for the successful feeder program we are witnessing . He is one guy , who only recently has had a steady assistant Coach ( Kneuer ) . Before that Carano was the only constant . It is pretty much assured that he will have 1 or 2 guys in the finals , a couple of more runner ups all this with a bare bone squad . Given what he has the pool to draw from , the limited number on the squad & his success is pretty wild . No matter who they match up against no team is more conditioned then Carano’s . Last thing it’s more then wrestling , its a class program , no tantrums , whining or carrying on . It’s competitors competing , getting the grades they are expected to get ,learning teamwork , responsibility, learning the rewards for hard work out there alone on the mat and how this transfers into their life outside the mat. No doubt Carano needs to be recognized once and for all

  28. Carano hands down he started the program literally from nothing and made it into something great. They’re easily going to have a team section title next year.

  29. Correction. Messenger did not beat the D1 section champ. Perry beat him at dual match at Jay

  30. Messinger beat Murray (182 D1 Section Champ) at the Yorktown Duals. I don’t think they wrestled a 2nd time.