Source: Mike Lamberti, Correspondent — NorthJersey.com
It’s only mid July, but the Nutley High wrestling team is certainly competing as if it were January.
Coach Mike DiPiano brought a group of Raiders to the highly competitive Rutgers University wrestling team camp last week, with some good results.
“It was tremendous,” said DiPiano, who is also busy coaching the Nutley High girls soccer team in a summer league while also working with a 12U softball team. “It’s been really busy, overall, and I’m happy that my (assistant wrestling) coaches were able to all participate at the Rutgers camp. We were there for four days, and our kids got the chance to be coached by all the staff members. To me, that’s important.”
DiPiano’s coaching staff once again includes Neal Picillo, Ralph DiPasquale and Marc DellaVolpe.
Among the wrestlers who competed at Rutgers included team captains Dominic Cofone and Frank Gabriele, as well as Joe D’Alessio, Shane Manieri, Jacob Gonzalez and John Hickey.
In addition, team captain Frank DeMaio was at camp, but was unable to compete as he recovers from an injury.
“Frank is a big-time leader of our team,” said DiPiano. “And I saw what kind of captain he is, when he went to camp and did everything he could to support his teammates. That’s a leader.”
The turnout at the Rutgers camp was tremendous.
“There had to be 400 kids there,” said DiPiano. “(Rutgers head wrestling coach) Scott (Goodale) and I have a good relationship and he was really supportive of our kids. The Rutgers program is tremendous overall. Their staff and wrestlers were great. We really enjoy going to the camp. It gives our kids a chance to get some work in and the coaches from the different schools can spend some time together at dinner. It’s a good time.”
DiPiano felt that all his wrestlers were well-tested.
“For sure, every guy who wrestled for us got better,” the coach said. “Shane Manieri won a match by pin after trailing, 10-0. Dom Cofone wrestled really well, Frankie Gabriele had a good week, Joe D’Alessio was solid at 220 pounds and Jacob Gonzalez and John Hickey looked good, too.”
A few of the prospective wrestlers weren’t able to make the Rutgers camp due to football commitments.
“In the summer, you have to work with the other programs,” said DiPiano. “A lot of our athletes play multiple sports, As a coach, you have to flexible. I get that. The most important thing is, the kids are doing stuff in the summer. We went to Rutgers to compete and get better. I wasn’t worried about wins and losses, I wanted us to wrestle tough kids, and we did that.”