By Jim & Tony Nordland

     Nassau Community College, located in Garden City, Long Island, has been a perennial wrestling power in the NJCAA Division III (Non-Scholarship) for many decades. The Lions are the defending NJCAA champions and claimed their fourth national junior college title at the 2009 Tournament. They now boast an incredible 77 All-Americans and  return a strong squad for the 2009-2010 campaign.

     Head coach Paul Schmidt, now enters his 13th season, and feels his team can win back-to-back national crowns. He noted, "We are currently ranked number one and still working at it, we are still the team to beat." Coach Schmidt along with his trio of able assistants; Chris Edmond, Sam Thomas and Tyshawn Scarlett feel, "We are a work in progress, we just had a good tournament at Wilkes and now have to get our guys to the the finish line."

     The Lions are led by returning NJCAA finalist Ricardo Gomez (14-4) of Brentwood who is currently top-rated at 125 pounds. Gomez dropped a close 6-4 decision in last years NJCAA final and seeks redemption at the 2010 Champioships. Other ranked matmen include; former New Jersey standout and recent Wilkes champion Kodie Silvestri (16-4) ranked 2nd at 141, state runner-up and HS All-American Brian Herold (10-4) of MacArthur, rated 6th at 149, Brentwood's Jesus Cartagena (11-6) ranked 11th at 184 and Corey James of Kingston ranked 12th at 285 pounds. Other Lion standouts are NYS place-winner Mike Doria (10-6) of Massapequa at 133, Walt Whitman all-county performer Rob Troy (149), former state champion Lance Wade (10-5) of Islip at 157 and Suffolk County medalist Chris Gandolfi (12-6) of Northport at 174 pounds.

     At the Long Island Open, which featured nine of the top junior college teams in the Metropolitan area, Nassau CC emerged with one titlist among their four finalists and finished with seven place-winners. Winning the lone championship for Nassau was Silas Murray (unattached) who defeated teammate Hugh Nawn, 12-3, for the 133-pound crown. Finalist Lance Wade used a series of fireman carry takedowns to post a solid 8-3 decision over Howie Graber (Gloucester, NJ) in the semi-finals and finished as runner-up in the 157-pound class. Kodie Silvestri won four bouts en route to the bronze medal at 141 pounds. In semi-final action, Silvestri scored with high crotch and single leg takedowns to lead his opponent Zak Andrews (Delaware Valley, PA) midway through match. Andrews rallied when he used a strong lefty headlock to stun Silvestri and registered a fall at the 6:20 mark in their bout. Silvestri posted two victories in the consolations and had four wins overall en route to the bronze medal at 141 pounds. Also earning third-place finishes for the host Lions were Jules Doliscar (Holy Trinity), as he clamped Corey Fitzpatrick (Bergen, NJ) at the 1:48 mark of the 174-pound class and Corey James received a forfeit win at 285 pounds.


    125- Charlie Frankel (Delaware Valley, PA) won by forfeit over Ricardo Gomez (Nassau CC).
133- Silas Murray (Nassau-unatt) major decision Hugh Nawn (Nassau-unatt), 12-3.
141- Dale Fava (Delaware Valley, PA) dec. Zak Andrews (Delaware Valley, PA), 6-3.
149- Emanuel Ajaghe (Delaware Valley, PA) dec. Mike Bell (USMMA), 4-2.
157- Dan Twito (USMMA) dec. Lance Wade (Nassau CC), 9-3.
174- Justin Diesel (USMMA) dec. Kirk Kiriazis (Gloucester CC. NJ), 4-3.
184- Dakota Moore (Gloucester CC, NJ) dec.George Hargrove (Springfield Tech, MA), 3-1.
197- Eric Vincent (USMMA) dec. Donald McNeil (Wyoming Seminary, PA), 4-0.
285- Kyle Bilquist (Springfield Tech, MA) won by forfeit over Zeke Pyle (Delaware Valley, PA)

Mat Notes...
The storied program at Nasssau CC has produced eight national champions, 16 finalists and 77 wrestlers who earned NJCAA All-American honors. The program's first two-time All-American was Neil Nugent (1962-63) who lated served as Dean of Students at the college, Nugent was also a veteran Tobay Beach ocean lifeguard for many years. Before Coach Schmidt came to Nassau CC, the foundation had been set by legendary and affable Charles "Chuck" Henke. Coach Henke was the mentor for 25 years (1971-1996) and recently inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame. During his tenure he produced three national champions, including two-time titlist Willie Gadson (Huntington), who later went onto a stellar career at Iowa State and developed 26 NJCAA All-Americans. The dual meet victories and championships continue well into the next decade, and can be attributed to coaches Henke and Schmidt, who built this solid program around pride and a commitment for excellence...
Silas Murray (Nassau-unattached) blocks a throw by Hugh Nawn (Nassau-unattached) in the 133 pound final. Murray came away with 12-3 decision to capture the gold. Click here for more photos...
Dan Twito (United States Merchant Marine Academy) is in deep on Lance Wade (Nassau Community College) in the 157 pound Nassau/LI Open. Twito (ranked 10th in Division III) took home the gold with a 9-3 victory as the USMMA crowned three champions in all.
Click here for more photos...