Kicking Off With the Pride: Hofstra 2013-14 Season Preview

Hofstra sent three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament in Iowa in 2013.  Two of those grapplers, Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith, return and with the addition of some fresh faces to the lineup and the development of some returners, there is a lot of optimism in Hempstead about what could be in store. New York Wrestling News spoke to assistant coach Zach Tanelli about changing conferences, the addition of transfers and the projected lineup for the 2013-14 campaign.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): You had a lot of success in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).  How do you feel about the move to the EIWA conference this year?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): We’re really excited about the opportunity to be in a conference as prestigious as the EIWA. Nothing against the CAA, but we just feel that this is a conference that better suits our team and will provide us with some tough challenges.

NYWN: Last year, you began the season with Minnesota and Wisconsin and faced a number of other top teams in the first half of the campaign, such as Iowa and Ohio State. What are some of the highlights of this year’s schedule?

ZT: We toned down our schedule a little bit, in part because we’ll be seeing some better teams in the EIWA.  A lot of our rivalries were with EIWA teams anyway, so we’re looking forward to those matches having added meaning.

You always want to have a good dual meet team but unless and until scoring is changed at the NCAAs, you need individuals to perform in the tournament setting where there’s adversity and you have to know how to respond if you take a loss.  So it’s always important to go to some of the top tournaments in the country because they’re test runs for the NCAAs. We’ll be doing that by going to [The Cliff Keen Invitational in] Las Vegas and the Southern Scuffle. These tournaments give you an opportunity to show you belong with the top guys.  To win those tournaments or place high, you have to beat some of the best.  Our team will have that opportunity.

NYWN: What do you think are the expectations for the team this year?

ZT: Expectations are lower for us externally, with only Luke Vaith in many of the rankings, but we feel differently.  We feel like we’re a darkhorse.  We think we’re definitely a top three team in the conference. We know there are tough teams like Cornell and Penn, but we feel that we match up well.  We need to win those head to head matchups, but we think a top three finish is likely and that we can sneak in higher in our first year. We definitely think we have guys who have what it takes to be All-Americans this year and other guys who will be national qualifiers. Time will tell.  We’re really excited about the season.

NYWN:  The season is right around the corner.  You have the Hofstra Wrestling Kickoff Banquet [6:30 p.m. at the Long Island Marriott] this Saturday, followed by the season opener against Rutgers at home on Sunday.  Tell us about those two events.

ZT: We like to do our kickoff to bring people together before the high school season starts, to get everyone excited about the season.  It will be an opportunity for people to meet [former Hofstra wrestler and UFC champion] Chris Weidman and see what he has to say.  He’ll also be at the match.  The Rutgers match should be a good dual to start off the season against a local team that we want to be facing every year.

NYWN: Let’s take a look at the wrestlers who look to play key roles for the Pride in 2013-14.

125

Franco, Photo by BV

Jamie Franco started for Hofstra at 133 for the past few years, making NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013.  This March, he won a pair of bouts in Des Moines.  For his senior season, the former Section 9 star will move down to 125, where he hopes to end his career on the podium.

“Jamie feels great at this weight,” Tanelli said. “I’m amazed at how he’s progressed and how strong he is.  It’s a natural fit for him.  He’s not getting much respect in the rankings, but we don’t care about that.  It’s a good spot to be in – low expectations for now. He wrestles well as an underdog and will prove himself early on.”

133

Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro were both Division I New York state champions in 2012.  Hudson had a successful redshirt year for the Pride and looked strong in freestyle, placing at events such as the University Nationals. Passaro returned to Long Island from Rutgers after an year disrupted by injuries. Hudson won the wrestle-off last week by a 7-2 score and will take the mat for the Pride against the Scarlet Knights.

“We think our lower weights are very strong and 133 is a big part of that,” Tanelli said. “Jamel is a really exciting wrestler and we think he can do very well this year.”

141

Vaith, Photo by BV

Luke Vaith topped multiple All-Americans last year and won a bout at the NCAA tournament.  The staff believes he has what it takes for a breakthrough senior campaign.

“Luke will be tested right off the bat, especially on our trip to Virginia [November 8-10],” Tanelli said. “He’ll face All-Americans Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) and Evan Henderson (North Carolina). They’re both ranked in the top five. It’s a heck of a time to show the country you’re a true contender.  We feel confident he can beat both of those guys and we feel strongly as a staff that he can win a national title.”

149

Cody Ruggirello and Cam Tessari faced off in last Friday’s wrestle-offs with Tessari winning by a 5-3 score.  It will be Ruggirello who will begin the season as the starter, however, as Tessari plans to return to action later in the campaign.

“They’ll probably wrestle off again close to the second semester,” Tanelli said. “Cody is our starter for the first half of the year. He looks good. Cam will be ready by the Southern Scuffle.  He’ll acclimate and adjust and be ready to go for the second part of the year.  The National Duals are at Ohio State this year and he’s hoping to compete in front of his family.” [Tessari is from the Buckeye State].

157

Nick Terdick started for the squad as an undersized 165 pounder a year ago, but has moved down to 157 for 2013-14.

“Nick is a super talented guy who has come a long way with his confidence,” Tanelli said. “He was in a weight class that wasn’t ideal for him last year, but he’s put in a nice offseason and is hitting his stride. I think he’s ready for a big jump.”

165

Joe Booth’s sixth-year of eligibility was officially granted by the NCAA a few weeks ago.  Now, the former Drexel grappler, a multiple-time NCAA qualifier, will look to take advantage of the opportunity in his last season as a college wrestler.

“It’s refreshing to have Joe in the room,” Tanelli said. “He’s a guy who really wants to be there because he has perspective from not fulfilling all of his goals.  He was training for the first month without knowing if he’d get the year from the NCAA.  He was training blindly, just hoping to get his shot.  It was a big sigh of relief for him and he views it as a second chance to finally accomplish his goals.  I think he struggled in the past with workout partners and maybe got in his own way sometimes. Having [assistant coaches] Dan Vallimont and Ryan Patrovich to work with has given him a whole new confidence. We feel very strongly about what he can do in March – we expect him to be an All-American.  He’s a pleasure to have in the room.”

174

Last Wednesday, a 174-pound wrestle-off took place, including last year’s starter, Jermaine John, Dave Heitman and Victor Pozsonyi.  A year after splitting time at higher weights (184/197) as a true freshman, it was Pozsonyi, the sophomore from New Jersey, who defeated the other two competitors (3-2 over John and 5-3 over Heitman).  Tanelli said earlier this week that either Pozsonyi or John will start, with the other redshirting.

“Victor has made huge gains since last year,” Tanelli said. “He’s come a long way and we’re excited to see what he can do.  Jermaine has been on a steady incline since he got here.  He’s gotten better every year.  He’s a fighter who is a very good listener and hard worker.”

184

After Pozsonyi won the initial 174-pound competition, the previously mentioned John, Heitman and freshman Dwight Howes took the mat in a round robin event at last Friday’s wrestle-offs. Howes went 2-0 in the mini-tournament, topping Heitman (6-2) and John (6-5).  The freshman from Colorado arrived in Hempstead this year after spending time after high school training at the Olympic Training Center and Tanelli said he will be the starter at this weight.

“Dwight doesn’t mind people shooting on him – he’s actually comfortable when guys get in on his legs,” the assistant coach said. “He scores off other people’s attacks.  He’ll have to make adjustments as the season progresses, but it’s always exciting to watch him compete because he loves to wrestle live.  It’s a good thing – you want guys who enjoy competition as much as he does.”

197

There weren’t any 197 pound wrestle-off bouts last week.  However, according to Tanelli, Heitman will take this spot for the Pride.  In addition, Tanelli said Zeal McGrew, who competed at heavyweight a year ago, has begun to make the move down to be in the mix for the 197 spot.

“[Heitman] has a lot of heart and works very hard,” Tanelli said. “You never have to watch him and wonder – he’s always on track, doing the right things. He’s a great guy for the room who has earned his shot.”

285

Photo by BV

Mike Hughes had a perfect high school season for Smithtown West in 2012-13, winning a state championship with 42 wins and 31 pins.  He has separated himself in the Hofstra room and will get the nod as a true freshman at heavyweight.

“Mike Hughes is our starter,” Tanelli said. “He’s come in and done a great job. He looks very good in the room. We’re excited about his future here.  We just need him to stay healthy and keep moving forward.”

——————–

Can Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith end their Hofstra careers on the podium?  How high will the squad place in its first season in the EIWA? We’ll see very soon what the Hofstra Pride will look like in 2013-14, as the season kicks off this Sunday at home against current EIWA foe Rutgers at 1 p.m.

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What's Happening at Hofstra? Assistant Coach Zach Tanelli Talks About All-American Tessari, Transfers and More As the Season Gets Closer

Hofstra brings back a pair of NCAA qualifiers –  Luke Vaith and Jamie Franco – and has added a number of transfers and other newcomers to the roster for the upcoming campaign.  New York Wrestling News caught up with assistant coach Zach Tanelli to talk about some of the new faces and the outlook for this season.

 

New York Wrestling News (NYWN):  Is the transfer of [2012 All-American] Cam Tessari from Ohio State official?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): Yes. [Last week] Cam Tessari was accepted to Hofstra and he’s enrolled in classes.

We’re really excited about it.  Cam was looking for a home and it’s a weight class [149 pounds] where we felt we needed more experience.  It’s a great thing that it worked out. It really solidifies the lower part of our lineup.

He has a redshirt available, but we’re not looking to redshirt him this year. Right now we’re looking to have him ready to go for the Southern Scuffle.  He is coming off an injury and we’ll be easing him back. We expect him to be healthy and strong and ready to make a deep run at the national tournament.  He has two years of eligibility left and three years to do it in.

NYWN: Joe Booth, who wrestled for Drexel, has also been rumored to be transferring to Hofstra.  Is there anything you can share on that?

ZT:  Joe has been accepted into grad school at Hofstra, so it’s just a matter of waiting to hear whether the NCAA will grant him a sixth year of eligibility.  He’ll be at Hofstra next year in grad school, in a business-related program that they didn’t have at Drexel.  We feel pretty confident that the NCAA will grant him the extra year, but you never know. We’ll just have to wait and see.  We have some experience with sixth year guys, like Justin Accordino last year. It’s great to have guys like that around the team.  Justin was a role model and a leader; a voice the guys listened to.  Having those sixth year guys around has benefits beyond wins and losses.  If Joe gets the year, he would wrestle at 165.

NYWN: In addition to Tessari, Booth and Maverick Passaro, who we profiled a few weeks ago (here), do you expect any other transfers on your team this year?

ZT: I’d say our roster for next year is full.  Those three transfers are the only ones we expect this year, and I’ll definitely take it.  We’re really excited about them.

NYWN: There are some other new faces that could see mat time this year.   One wrestler who had a good redshirt year and some success in freestyle in the offseason is 2012 state champion Jamel Hudson.  What expectations do you have for him this year?

ZT: The plan right now is for him to go 133.  It looks like he will be competing with Maverick Passaro for the spot. He had a good redshirt year with some impressive wins.  Probably the best win was against Franklin & Marshall’s Ricky Durso, who made the Round of 12 at NCAAs.  Jamel was one of Durso’s few losses coming into the NCAA tournament.  Jamel showed signs of being able to perform at a very high level.  He’s a performer – he really enjoys the spotlight. I think the sky’s the limit if he has his weight under control.  He needs to grow throughout the season and mature wrestling-wise.  But he’s a very confident young man and he could have an impact on the national scene.

NYWN: Another newcomer familiar to New York wrestling fans is Smithtown West state champion Mike Hughes at 285.  Do you expect him to step on the mat right away?

ZT: It will be a competition between him and Zeal McGrew, two New York guys. We’ll see how it goes. They’ll wrestle off.  It looks as though Mike is the frontrunner at this time. But Zeal’s been working and is motivated to try and get in the lineup.  We’re excited about that weight class because we feel like we’ll be scoring points there this year.

NYWN: What can you tell us about [184-pounder] Dwight Howes, who spent time at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) after graduating high school?

ZT:  Dwight spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 at the OTC competing in freestyle, trying to make a US World Team.  He’s done a nice job and really developed with some great wins on the freestyle circuit. Now, he’s adapting to college wrestling.  He’s done a great job so far; he really loves wrestling.  He also loves Hofstra. He wants to put that singlet with an ‘H’ on his chest and represent this university. He’s excited to come to the room every day – he doesn’t care if you’re 125 pounds, 225 pounds or 325 pounds, he wants to wrestle and wrestle hard.  He needs to get his conditioning up and work on his mat wrestling like most freshmen.   I feel optimistic about his future in this program.

NYWN: You mentioned Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro at 133 earlier.  Is Jamie Franco moving down to 125 for his senior year?

ZT: Yes.  It’s a little more of a natural weight for him. He built himself up to be a 133, but 125 is his natural class.  I think he’s right around the weight he should be right now.  He’s done a great job. He’s really focused and motivated and taking all the necessary measures to be an All-American.

NYWN: Will Luke Vaith be back at 141 pounds?

ZT: Yes. I think Luke is going to have a breakout year.  He’s a very self motivated wrestler. He’s always asking to work.  He had a great season last year; although a little inconsistent at times.  The biggest thing he learned is that he belongs at this level.  He belongs in the conversation with All-Americans and national champions.

The biggest change this offseason for him is his mat wrestling. He’s worked a lot with [Edinboro NCAA champion] Gregor Gillespie, who was one of the best in the NCAA in top wrestling.  Luke has been hammering the mat work.  We’ve had lots of conversations that at the highest level, you have to be able to ride those last 15 seconds or you have to be able to escape in those last 15 seconds. It’s pivotal and he gets that.

He’s a really tough critic of himself.  He almost didn’t believe how good he was until after he looked back at his total body of work last year. When he looks back at last season, he sees he beat All-Americans like [Minnesota’s Nick] Dardanes and [Cornell’s Mike] Nevinger.  He has a lot more confidence and I think he’s poised and ready to make a deep run this year.

NYWN: Anything else going on at Hofstra that you’d like to share?

ZT: We’re just soaking up these last two weeks, and before you know it, school’s here. Everyone is on their summer programs and we’ll be hitting the ground running in a few weeks.  We’re excited for a new year. We feel like we have a nice mix of guys, new and veteran, who will help us do much better and outperform what we did last year.

NY College Updates: Army Hires Francois; Binghamton and Hofstra Wrestle-Offs This Week

With the college season just a few weeks away, teams are getting closer to naming their starting lineups for the early season action.  This week, both Binghamton and Hofstra will hold wrestle-offs.  In other New York college wrestling news, Joe Heskett has added Enock Francois to the Army coaching staff for the upcoming campaign.  See more details on those stories below.

Binghamton Wrestle-Offs to be Held on Saturday

Donnie Vinson, Photo by Boris V

According to assistant coach Jasen Borshoff, Binghamton will be holding wrestle-offs this Saturday, October 27th at 1 p.m. in the West Gym.  The Bearcats open the season on November 8th at Lehigh.

As Borshoff discussed in the Binghamton season preview, there are a number of weights where the battle for the starting job is very competitive, including the first few weight classes (125-141) as well as 174 pounds.

One other important date to keep on the calendar is Sunday, November 11.  That’s when the Binghamton Open will be held, beginning at 9 a.m.  300 wrestlers are already signed up from 16 Division I teams.

 

Hofstra Wrestle-Offs Beginning on Wednesday

According to assistant coach Zach Tanelli, preliminary wrestle-off bouts will take place on Wednesday, with the finals on Sunday, October 28 at 5 p.m. in the Physical Education Building.  The event is open to the public.

Tentative matchups are as follows:

Wednesday, October 24th at 3:30 p.m.

157: Russell Benner vs. Mike Caputo
Jay Lysne vs. Dalton Ahern
133: Joe Gosinski vs. Jamel Hudson
141: Dan Manley vs. Cody Ruggirello
149: Matt Spataro vs. Cory Goshkagarian
Jahlani Callender vs. Sam Schwartzapfel
165: Nick Terdick vs. Dan Spurgeon
174: Frank Affronti vs. David Heitman
Hwt: Zeal McGrew vs. James Trull
157: Winner of Benner/Caputo vs. Winner of Lysne/Ahern

Sunday, October 28th at 5 p.m.

125: Steve Bonanno vs. Loser of Gosinski/Hudson
133: Jamie Franco vs. Winner of Gosinski/Hudson
141: Luke Vaith vs. Winner of Manley/Ruggirello
149: Winner of Spataro/Goshkagarian vs. Winner of Callender/Schwartzapfel
157: Tyler Banks vs. Winner of 157 Mini-Tournament
165: Jermaine John vs. Winner of Terdick/Spurgeon
174: Winner of Affronti/Heitman vs. Loser of Terdick/Spurgeon
184: Taras Luzhnyy vs. Loser of Affronti/Heitman
197: Tim Murphy vs. Victor Pozsonyi
Hwt: Paul Snyder vs. Winner of McGrew/Trull

 

Army Adds Enock Francois to Coaching Staff

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army wrestling head coach Joe Heskett has added Enock Francois to his staff for the 2012-13 campaign. Francois, who arrives at West Point after spending the past two seasons as a graduate assistant at University of the Cumberlands, will take over for Terry Madden as the Black Knights’ volunteer coach.

“I am so excited to be here at West Point and look forward to working with these young men,” said Francois. “The wrestlers here are eager to learn and continue to improve as a unit, and that is very exciting to be around.”

During his time at Cumberlands, Francois assisted head coach Matt Lowers in all aspects of the program. He helped coordinate practices, aided with recruiting and assisted with daily strength and conditioning activities.

Francois was a dominant wrestler during his collegiate days at both Northwestern College and California Baptist University, earning three NAIA All-America certificates. He was a two-time All-American at NWC, placing fourth at NAIA Nationals as a sophomore and taking fifth during his junior campaign. Francois, who still holds the Northwestern College single-season records for wins (45) and takedowns (150), piled up more than 100 wins at NWC before transferring to CBU for his final season.

He capped his collegiate career by placing second at the NAIA Nationals en route to his third All-America certificate. Francois, who is still actively wrestling, has World and Olympic Team aspirations. He will continue to train for the 2016 Olympic Games while coaching at the Academy.

“Training for the World and Olympic Teams has always been something that I have wanted to do,” said Francois. “I’m now able to do that through the West Point Wrestling Club, and I am thankful to have that opportunity.”

Francois authored an impressive high school career, posting 124 wins in four years. He was a two-time state qualifier in Florida, placing sixth in the state during as a senior. A three-time all-conference selection, Francois won three district championships and a pair of conference titles.

Francois graduated from California Baptist University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He earned his master’s degree in Teaching from University of the Cumberlands in 2012. (Courtesy of goarmysports.com) 

One-on-One With Recently Promoted Zach Tanelli, Hofstra's Head Assistant Coach

Zach Tanelli, Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications

New York Wrestling News spent time talking to recently promoted Hofstra Head Assistant Coach Zach Tanelli about a range of topics, from the team’s loaded 2012-13 schedule, to the newcomers who could have an immediate impact, to the New York-New Jersey wrestling rivalry.

Q: Let’s start with the schedule.  Hofstra has a lot of tough tests early, including opening with last year’s National Duals champion, Minnesota.  What was the thought process when putting together this schedule?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): You can blame me because [head coach] Rob [Anspach] put me in charge of scheduling.  We wanted to change our philosophy a little bit.  With the way the NCAAs are structured today, you’re judged on All-Americans.  We have a strong tradition of having All-Americans and an overall good team, but we know we can’t be complacent and happy with having just a few All-Americans.  We want to be a top-10 team and to do that we have to be as ready as possible to wrestle the best.  So our goal is to match up with teams like Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota early in the season to know what we need to work on to be best prepared for the NCAAs.  We’d love to go 15-0 in dual meets, but that’s not our main focus.  The goal is to be prepared for March.  We know this doesn’t ensure All-Americans by any means, but we feel as a staff that it will get the guys as prepared as they can be for the part of the season that matters the most.

You’ll be meeting two of the teams you mentioned, Iowa and Ohio State, at the first-ever wrestling event at Madison Square Garden.   How does the team feel about participating?

ZT: It’s definitely exciting for us to be a part of the inaugural event.  Madison Square Garden would like to do it every year, but it will depend a lot on attendance.  I think it will be a great draw.  We wanted to wrestle the tough teams and we’re getting the chance pretty close to home.  We’re really excited about wrestling at Madison Square Garden and about getting our guys an early season opportunity to see where they are.

You also will be participating in the National Duals this year.  How did that come about?

ZT: Honestly, we always want to be a part of National Duals.  Last year, we didn’t get invited.  This year, we’re happy to be a part of it.  As long as we get the invite, we’ll be in attendance.

You mentioned the focus on March and having All-Americans.  Steve Bonanno made the podium last year and returns for more one season.  What was the difference for him in 2011-12 and what do you expect from him in his senior campaign?

ZT: Last year everyone surrounding the program knew he was capable of being an All-American.   The biggest thing that happened was mental.  He started really believing in himself and stopped asking questions.  He really committed to what we were telling him and dealt with the adversity.

He was an All-American, he was proud and we were proud.  But immediately after, we sat down and agreed – 8th place isn’t good enough because he can do more. This year, instead of being a guy [ranked] in the 5-8 range, we want him to be a guy in the 1-4 range and in title contention. He put in a good summer and we feel confident he can take that next step.  A lot of it will come down to how he handles the adversity and pressure of being the hunted.  No one will take him lightly and there’s a big mark on his back.  I think he’s a kid who will step up to the plate and accept the challenge.

Justin Accordino also became an All-American for the first time last year.  He was granted his sixth year of eligibility after missing most of two seasons with injuries.  What are you looking for from him this season?

ZT: When Justin finally trusted and believed that he wasn’t going to go out there and get hurt, it really showed. And that’s what’s most important for him.  If he’s consistent, the sky’s the limit for him.  He’s a quick learner who listens well.  Everyone saw what he’s capable of when he was healthy for a full year with a good year of training.  We think he can punch his way into the finals this year rather than drop that semifinals match like he did last year.

Who do you see as a breakthrough performer for Hofstra this year?

ZT: I think there could be a couple, but I’ll start with [141-pounder] Luke Vaith.  I thought he was very good last year.  He had some solid wins over [former All-American from Penn] Zach Kemmerer and Billy Ashnault [of Rutgers].  I hate to make excuses but he had a pretty tough draw at the national tournament, getting [two-time NCAA champion] Kellen Russell in the second round and then Kemmerer, who had some experience at the NCAAs. I thought he could make the Round of 12 last year and after this summer, I think he will surprise a lot of people.  He’ll definitely be tested right away with the schedule we have and I think he’ll pass.  I’m looking for him to be an All-American this year.

Speaking of possible breakthrough performers, your incoming recruiting class had some of the top wrestlers in New York, such as 2012 state champions Dan Spurgeon (Plainedge) and Jamel Hudson (St. Anthony’s) as well as strong out of state talent.  What have you seen from the class so far?

ZT: [Assistant coach] Dan Vallimont has done a great job on the recruiting side.  He has done very well building relationships and reaching out to kids.

A lot of the kids were here over the summer, training and getting workouts in.  I think the biggest thing isn’t necessarily the accolades they had in high school, but their attitude.  We like the attitude they bring and feel strongly that they will pan out.  There are 18 of them coming in, filling every weight other than 125.  It’s exciting for the program.

Do you think some will see the mat right away?

ZT: It’s always hard to say with freshmen.  Victor Pozsonyi [NHSCA All-American from New Jersey] will be right up there to start at 197.  He’s had a really nice summer with us.  Dan Spurgeon looks good as a 174 pounder.  He has been around too and we’re really excited about him.

Then we have a newcomer in Taras Luzhnyy [silver medalist at the 2010 University World Championships in freestyle], who should be our starter at 184 pounds. It’s great because after Ben Clymer graduated, we thought we would have to start fresh at that weight.  He’s a workhorse who has been here all summer and really wants to take care of business.   As of now, he has only one year of eligibility and I wish we had more time with him.  The biggest area of focus is obviously on the mat, but with his work ethic, he’s making the adjustments.  We feel confident that by March, he’ll have a shot to be a high All-American. He brings a very different dynamic into the room and the amount of respect he has from the guys already is outrageous.

Another impact upperweight signed from Colorado, Dwight Howes (two-time Colorado state champion, FILA Junior Pan Am Games champion).  Will he be at Hofstra this season?

ZT: Dwight is training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  He’ll be spending this year out there, trying to get ready to make a World Team, and then he’ll be at Hofstra in the fall of 2013.

Congratulations on your recent promotion to Head Assistant Coach.   What changes does the promotion bring about for you and in the coaching staff?

ZT: As far as responsibilities go, the responsibilities are pretty similar to what they were between [Head Coach] Rob [Anspach], Dan [Vallimont] and I last year.  Everything I was doing last year, I’m still doing.  It’s a really nice thing, though, to be recognized by our coaches, the Athletic Director and the leaders of the University. It’s an honor.

So, will the coaching staff remain the same for next year?

ZT: Gregor Gillespie is moving on to fight and Ryan Patrovich will be coming on as the volunteer assistant.  We’re really excited about having Ryan on board as a coach.  He had a great career at Hofstra and is an important part of the program.

Did you know you wanted to get into coaching after you graduated from Wisconsin?

ZT: Even when I was competing, I thought of myself as a better coach than wrestler.  I knew I would be helping out in wrestling somehow after Wisconsin and I was fortunate that this opportunity arose close to where I grew up and I jumped on it.

Whenever I was home during college, I’d help out with my high school and the Edge Club with Ernie Monaco. I think I have a good sense of breaking technique down so guys can relate and understand and fit it into their style.  There are some guys who are better wrestlers, but they have a hard time explaining the moves.  Doing it and teaching it – totally different ballgames.  The best coaches aren’t always the best athletes and I think that’s accepted in a lot of other sports, but in wrestling, personal accolades are taken heavily into consideration.

What are some of the things that challenged you as you went from wrestler to coach?

ZT: There were a couple of things.  First, I think realizing that everyone is different and that you need to be patient.  What motivated me isn’t what’s going to motivate every kid.  You need to connect to each kid as an individual because at this level nearly everyone is capable of turning the corner and being successful, for the most part.  There aren’t too many secret moves or techniques.  It’s about getting people to buy into a system or philosophy and finding the buttons to push to make them get to their best.

Recruiting also takes getting used to.  It’s a new experience to be confident and comfortable in a kid’s home.  You’re talking to the kids and their parents about pivotal years in life and helping a kid go from being a young adult to a man.  It took some time to get used to those types of conversations.

Also, I never really saw some of the things that go into coaching beyond the actual coaching – like the relationship building and fundraising.  I guess I wasn’t expecting it.  The wrestling part is easy – it’s enjoyable to hang out with the guys — lifting, training, wrestling.  The other parts are challenging and probably go unnoticed.  But the number of hours are worth it when the guys achieve their goals.

You’re from New Jersey.  There is a growing rivalry between New York and New Jersey in wrestling.  Was that rivalry in place when you were growing up?

ZT: When I was in high school, it wasn’t really a rivalry.  But now, New Jersey has to worry about New York.  New York wrestling seems to have grown quite a bit in the past decade.  I saw some of that New York/New Jersey rivalry when I was up at the Adam Frey Classic.  New York was always known for very good individuals, but is now well known for depth as well.  I definitely get a lot more questions about New York kids on the national circuit now than I did even a few years ago.   The state’s wrestling is heading in the right direction and I’m really excited to be a part of it at Hofstra.

Zach Tanelli Promoted to Head Assistant Coach at Hofstra

Courtesy of Hofstra Athletic Communications (gohofstra.com)

Hempstead, NY – Hofstra wrestling assistant coach Zach Tanelli has been promoted to Head Assistant coach, Pride Head Wrestling Coach Rob Anspach announced today.  A three-time NCAA Championship qualifier and 2009 All-American as a student-athlete, Tanelli will begin his fourth season on the Hofstra Wrestling coaching staff in 2012-13.

“I am happy to promote Zach to the position of head assistant coach,” Anspach stated. “His work with our lightweight wrestlers the past three years has been a key factor in the continuous success of our team.” Last year, Hofstra was 12-3 overall, 5-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association and captured their 11th conference title in the last 12 seasons. 

As a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin, Tanelli placed fourth at the 2009 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. The Short Hills, New Jersey, native recorded a 6-2 record, including five straight victories, in the National Championships to earn his first All-America honor. Tanelli, who was the top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds for eight weeks through the conference tournament, placed second in the Big 10 Championships. The 2008 Midlands champion finished the year with a 31-6 record, including a 15-1 mark in duals and a 7-0 record in the Big 10 and ranked second in the country. 

Tanelli earned his first NCAA Championship bid in 2007 as a wildcard after placing eighth in the Big Ten Championships. He recorded a 21-10 overall record including a 19-3 mark in dual matches and a 5-3 record in the Big 10. Tanelli also led the Badgers in dual points with 80. As a junior in 2007-08, he earned his second NCAA Championship bid by finishing fifth in the Big 10 Championships. Tanelli posted a 3-2 record at Nationals to finish the season with a 28-12 record including a 13-5 mark in duals and a 5-3 record in conference action.

A two-time New Jersey State Championship runner-up out of Millburn High School, Tanelli notched an 8-3 record and captured the Pointer Open title as a red-shirt freshman at Wisconsin in 2005-06. During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Tanelli posted an 88-31 overall record including a 49-10 mark in duals and a 17-6 record in the Big 10. 

Tanelli, who holds a degree in sociology from Wisconsin, will complete his master’s degree course work in educational leadership and policy studies at Hofstra this fall.