The Westchester/Putnam player of the year poll has concluded, with Brewster’s Gino Gioielli surging late to take 47.59 percent of the vote. Now that we’ve asked about wrestlers of the year from both sides of the year, it’s time to move onto the coaching awards.
Per usual, I don’t have any easy decisions to make because of dearth of quality coaches in the area, but here are my top four nominees for Rockland coach of the year. To vote, click on your favorite coach below, or on the right-hand side of the screen:
• Peter Dene, Tappan Zee—Under Dene, the Dutchmen have put themselves back on the map, not only in Section 1, but across the state. No other team from Rockland can claim multiple All-State wrestlers, which TZ had in John Hartnett (fifth at 220) and Mike Manni (runner-up at 285). Dene has a very positive and energetic coaching demeanor, and it shows in the way that his kids wrestle. He’s taken a few kids who weren’t expected to have much success and helped them work to become champions, which is the true sign of a quality coach.
• Chris Matteotti, Suffern—Despite experiencing some growing pains early in the season, the Mounties finished very strong under Matteotti. He knew it would take time with such a young lineup, but you could argue that no team in the area improved as much from start to finish as Suffern did. A very accomplished wrestler himself, Matteotti has upheld a strong tradition at his alma mater. The Mounties surprised by finishing third in Division 1 at sectionals, and with so many key returners, they could be in position to compete for a title next year.
• Carmine Serra, Nanuet—Pretty much everyone expected Nanuet to take a step back this season after losing so many key wrestlers from to graduation from the previous year—except for Serra. He refused to scale back expectations, and his team bought in. Despite replacing 10 of 15 starters and using so many wrestlers who were inexperienced at the varsity level, the Golden Knights remained one of the elite teams in Division 2. And while they fell just short in their bid for a fourth consecutive section title, they did win another Section 1 Dual Meet title, proving just how deep the program is.
• Jeff Swick, North Rockland—In Swick’s second year at the helm, the Red Raiders won their second straight Division 1 section title. That’s not a bad batting average. Swick took over a program that was on the rise two years ago and was the perfect man for the job, seamlessly fitting in and becoming the leader of the top program in Section 1. He has built steady relationships with each of his wrestlers and always seems to push the right buttons, leading to three individual section champs this season. There is plenty of talent at North Rockland, and Swick has figured out how to make it thrive.