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NJCAA wrestling champ Nassau CC is built for success

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."

New York Sports