New coach looks to take wrestling team to another level


Andrew Hefter, Staff Writer

The NVD wrestling program has been winning more and more matches over the past few years and seems eager to keep accelerating up the ranks. 

In 2019, former coach Thomas Basile took over a depleted wrestling program. He grew the program’s number of athletes, and with this, it showed results. The Norsemen became a winning program with a bright future.

Basile brought two of the current assistant coaches, Shaun Carroll and Shane Hurley. Coach Carroll and Hurley have been a crucial part of the team’s success, allowing the team’s true capabilities to show. 

On May 9th, Mr. Oppido announced the hiring of the new Boys Wrestling Coach, Mike Rooney. Coach Rooney has set the tone since, and students are hearing the buzz about the wrestling program. Kids are working out, running, and preparing for the upcoming season. Coach Rooney was involved right away, helping his athletes prepare and learn. Since he was hired, he announced several new staff members. Rooney was a four-year wrestler at the division 1 level at Wagner University. He also served as a captain during his tenure.

The staff also includes Anthony Rubinetti, a former D1 College Wrestler, Shaun Carroll, a former D3 College Wrestler, Bailey Pastor, a former D3 College Wrestler, Jarred Tolotti, a former D3 College Wrestler, and Shane Hurley, a former D3 Football Player.  An additional staff member is Lauren Rotondella, who will coach the brand-new girls wrestling program. She is currently Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s number one blue belt in the country. This deep and experienced staff is only the beginning, as Rooney already has plans to bring three more staff members who are currently wrestling collegiately.

The offseason has greatly influenced the wrestling program’s predicted success. The athletes have been in and out of the gym, wrestling room, and the track.

Senior Mason Joseph has personally been doing exactly that. He expressed tons of excitement while discussing the preparation for the upcoming season. 

“The offseason has been great. Individually, I lift every day and have been on the mat since the summer. Personally, I’ve been putting in work ever since I lost last year at regionals. As a team, we definitely stepped it up this offseason with Coach Rooney’s guidance. We’ve gone to tournaments, camps, and workouts with other programs, and obviously have been lifting and wrestling consistently. We understand the expectations we need to succeed and I think we’ve done a good job preparing for those,” Joseph said. 

All the wrestlers seem excited, specifically, sophomore Andrew Zwernemann, who is coming off a great start to his high school career. 

Zwernemann hopes to continue success this season (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Zwernemann)

I am very excited for the upcoming season and I feel that we will do even better than we did last year,” Zwernemann said.

Coach Rooney has ensured that the wrestlers have the opportunity to wrestle and get into shape during the offseason by setting them up with in-school and out-of-school workouts. 

“We have had the weight room open for the team since the summer. It has been great seeing all the kids in and out of there as lots of the wrestlers have utilized it. Our staff also set the team up with an opportunity to wrestle at an off-campus club two times a week as well as organizing with the junior wrestling program to open up the mats two nights a week for them to come in and drill with one another,” Rooney said.

After a solid season last year, the team looks forward to passing the level of success from last year. 

We have set the bar pretty high here at NVD coming off of a year where the team was 3 points away from making their first group sectional semi-final match as a six seed. Only losing four starting wrestlers from last year. Our staff is confident in the team and feels that they will put together a good run this year. Specifically, we have set some goals, which include winning a league title, a county title, and being a sectional finalist. Also, we are aiming to get some wrestlers out of the district and region tournaments,” Rooney said.

The team sounds ready to go and is eager to start competing. Before the season, they will continue to work and will attend a few scrimmages and pre-season tournaments. They open up their season at Hackensack on December 16th.