NWCA announces State, Regional and National scholastic award winners

By Tammy Tedesco NWCA

Manheim, Pa. – The National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholastic Board of Directors is proud to announce the annual National Scholastic Award Winners. The NWCA presents awards in three categories: National Coach of the Year, National Assistant Coach of the Year and National Senior Wrestler of the Year.

In each category, an individual is selected from their state association, as is a winner from the National Preps.

The 2011 NWCA National Head Coach of the Year is Paul Morina of New Jersey. Morina is the longtime head coach at Paulsboro High School. This season, Morina and his Red Raider team accomplished a rare feat – becoming just the third high school in the country to win 1,000 matches.

For the last 26 years at the helm at Paulsboro, Morina’s teams have won 25 class state championships, 24 district championships and 25 conference titles. He’s coached 168 district champions, 72 regional champions and 13 state champions. In 26 years, Morina has coached over half of Paulsboro’s 1,000 victories. He’s 529-30-4 at Paulsboro as well as the principal at the school.

“I am very honored and proud to be recognized for doing something I love,” said Morina. “Coaching is one of the most rewarding activities not because of winning, but because of the gratifying feeling you get watching kids achieve and some over achieve in the most demanding sport. Wrestling gives kids the opportunity to meet so many different people from all walks of life and make contacts they may never make otherwise.”

“I am very fortunate to be administrator and coach at a small high school, in a blue color town that has such a strong wrestling tradition and community support,” said Morina. “This award is a credit to our head coaches, assistant coaches and wrestlers who have ever worn a Paulsboro wrestling singlet in the last sixty eight years. Dan Gable once said ‘Once you’ve have wrestled everything else in life is easy,’ I truly believe that.”

Jeff Buxton of Blair Academy was named the National Prep Coach for the second time in his career. Buxton has led the Bucs to 26 straight National Prep Championships, coached 145 individual champions and has claimed titles at the prestigious Ironman and Beast of the East tournaments a combined 25 times. Buxton’s team has perennially been the nation’s top-ranked program the last two and a half decades.

“It was a very exciting season for Blair Wrestling. This was one of the most improved teams I have ever coached, our young athletes developed throughout the season meeting the demands of our schedule which also helped them to develop,” said Buxton. “We went to many exciting events having a different line up almost every match or tournament and it was rewarding to see the number of kids jump so many levels as we finished the season with a very good performance at the National Preps. This was one of those teams that energized me as they wanted more knowledge and technique as they improved. Each week was a testimony of buying into a winning culture.”

“Coach Morina and Coach Buxton have both accomplished many great things in their careers, not only preparing their athletes to be accomplished wrestlers, but also teaching them that education is just as important. Both of these coaches have been a great ambassador to our sport and to the NWCA.” said Mike Moyer, NWCA Executive Director.

The National Assistant Coach of the Year goes to Kirk Skiles from Lincoln East High School in Nebraska.

An assistant wrestling coach for 31 years, as well as serving as the cross country coach at both the high school and middle school levels, Skiles has helped Lincoln East win three consecutive state championships and has helped the program to 10 top-ten finishes at the state tournament.

Twenty of Skiles’ years matside have been with Marty McCurdy at East. McCurdy has helped shaped Skiles’ coaching philosophy.

“My philosophy, like many coaches is that the journey is more important than the destination. I would hope that all of the athletes on the team feel like they are part of something larger than themselves and that the teams and their friend’s struggles become more important than their own,” said Skiles. “There is nothing more rewarding in coaching than to watch teammates go through the blood, sweat, and tears of four years of training and then become friends for a lifetime because of the experiences they have shared.”

Assistant Coach Adam DeCosmo of Archbishop Spaulding in Maryland receives this year’s National Prep Assistant Coach of the Year Award. He has served in the role of assistant coach for the past four years. His team this year went 33-0 on the season, were Maryland Independent Schools State Champions, broke into the Fab 50 National Team Ranking and ended the season with a third place finish at the National Prep Championships.

DeCosmo credits a lesson taught to him by his former college coach that has helped him succeed. “Coach Pat Santoro taught me to always put yourself in your athletes shoes before making a decision on how to approach that person,” said DeCosmo.

Minnesota’s Destin McCauley is the NWCA’s Senior Wrestler of the Year. The Apple Valley High School senior won is fifth state championship, completing a 51-0 senior season. McCauley, who will spend next year at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, finished with a 286-7 career record, with 198 victories coming by fall.

Evan Silver of Blair Academy, is this year’s recipient of the National Prep Wrestler of the Year Award. He won his fourth consecutive National Prep this year, and is one of five wrestlers who have ever accomplished the feat. He holds a career record of 131-10 along with being a Beast of East, Ironman and Maccabiah Games Champion. He has committed to wrestle at Stanford University next year.

“Both Destin and Evan have finished outstanding high school careers both individually and as a part of successful teams (Apple Valley and Blair Academy). We look forward to seeing them excel at both the collegiate and Olympic levels,” said Moyer.

“Our goal as a coaches association is to continue to recognize coaches and wrestlers for their outstanding accomplishments, both on the mat in competition, academically and in life.”

We would also like to recognize the award recipients of the NWCA Regional Coaches, Assistant Coaches and Senior Wrestlers of the Year. In order to be considered for National Honors, the nominee must have been selected as a Regional Award Winner:

Region Regional Award Recipient Nominee School (State)
1 Assistant Coach of the Year Billy Daveys John Glenn HS (NY)
1 Head Coach of the Year Paul Morina Paulsboro HS (NJ)
1 Senior Wrestler of the Year Andrew Campolattano Bound Brook HS (NJ)
2 Assistant Coach of the Year John Heffernan Lakewood St. Edward HS (OH)
2 Head Coach of the Year Jeff Jordan St. Paris Graham (OH)
2 Senior Wrestler of the Year Nico Megaludis Franklin Regional HS (PA)
3 Assistant Coach of the Year Sal Basile Springstead HS (FL)
3 Head Coach of the Year David Perry Croatan HS (NC)
3 Senior Wrestler of the Year TJ Duncan McCallie School (TN)
4 Assistant Coach of the Year Stan Granger Holt Public Schools (MI)
4 Head Coach of the Year Mark Hahn Glenbard North HS (IL)
4 Senior Wrestler of the Year Jesse Thielke Germantown HS (WI)
5 Assistant Coach of the Year Kirk Skiles Lincoln East HS (NE)
5 Head Coach of the Year Mike Hagerty Blue Springs HS (MO)
5 Senior Wrestler of the Year Destin McCauley Apple Valley HS (MN)
6 Assistant Coach of the Year Stephen Burak Coronado HS (CO)
6 Head Coach of the Year Steve Davis Flower Mound HS (TX)
6 Senior Wrestler of the Year Connor Medbery Loveland HS (CO)
7 Assistant Coach of the Year Russ Winer Dobson HS (AZ)
7 Head Coach of the Year Mike Rippinger Box Elder HS (UT)
7 Senior Wrestler of the Year Morgan McIntosh Calvary Chapel HS (CA)
8 Assistant Coach of the Year Lorne Stills Culver HS (OR)
8 Head Coach of the Year Brent Barnes Lake Stevens HS (WA)
8 Senior Wrestler of the Year Jade Rauser Broadwater HS (MT)
Region National Award Recipient Name School
1 National Head Coach of the Year Paul Morina Paulsboro HS (NJ)
5 National Assistant Coach of the Year Kirk Skiles Lincoln East HS (NE)
5 National Senior Wrestler of the Year Destin McCauley Apple Valley HS (MN)
NP Head National Prep Coach of the Year Jeff Buxton Blair Academy (NJ)
NP Assistant National Prep Coach of the Year Adam DeCosmo Archbishop Spaulding (MD)
NP Senior National Prep Wrestler of the Year Evan Silver Blair Academy (NJ)