Shane DeLucca Named Fair Lawn Wrestling Coach
The Cutters have a young squad this year, but Coach DeLucca believes the program's future is bright
Shane DeLucca has been named Fair Lawn High School’s head wrestling coach.
DeLucca, a 1997 FLHS graduate who wrestled under legendary coach and current assistant principal Frank Guadagnino, said he hopes to bring some of the characteristic swagger back to the school’s historic wrestling program that struggled through an 8-15 season in 2010.
A health and physical education teacher at both the high school and Thomas Jefferson Middle School, DeLucca replaces John Piela, who stepped down as head wrestling coach in September for personal reasons.
During his own four-year varsity wrestling career, DeLucca won the individual district championship once and finished district runner-up twice. He placed 2nd in the region at the 119-pound weight class in 1996 and 4th in the region at the 130-pound weight class in 1997.
Prior to being named head coach, DeLucca served as an assistant at Butler High School, a volunteer wrestling coach for the Fair Lawn All-Sports program, and most recently at Fair Lawn High School, where he has been the assistant coach for the past five years.
DeLucca said his familiarity with the wrestlers and his time spent learning at the hands of Guadagnino, Piela and Butler’s head wrestling coach John O’Shea, have prepared him to step in and right Fair Lawn’s program.
The biggest challenge, he said, will be building a winner with what is right now a young and inexperienced team. The Cutters lost a number of strong wrestlers to graduation and may miss out on a couple others who aren’t certain to come out for the team this year, DeLucca said.
Sophomore Jarred Rose is the only returning wrestler who medaled last year. Rose took 2nd in the district tournament while wrestling at 119 pounds, up 7 pounds from his regular season weight.
Joining Rose as the team’s top returning wrestlers are juniors Austen Fisher and Jack Anderson, and senior Brian Krakower. DeLucca said he’s also expecting big things from a couple of incoming freshman who have wrestled recreationally in the town’s All-Sports program.
Building up the town’s rec program, which starts in first grade and serves as a feeder system for the high school, is DeLucca’s primary goal.
“In the last couple years, we haven’t really been getting too many kids coming up from the rec program,” DeLucca said. “We’ve been just getting kids out from their freshman year, so it's difficult to get a freshman to be a successful wrestler in just a short three-year period of time.”
DeLucca is hopeful that as the rec program continues to grow – it’s tripled in size over the past few years – the high school wrestling team will reap the benefits.
“From, I’d say 2 years from now, all the way down to our 4th graders, we’re going to have some kids that are really good,” DeLucca said. “That’s what we’re waiting on. But it’s going to take some time.”
While building a strong feeder program is key, DeLucca is still always looking for driven freshman wrestlers who are new to the sport.
“There are plenty of kids who come out their first year and can do well as long as they’re athletic and in good shape,” he said. “Anyone who’s athletic, you can turn them into a winner in a short amount of time as long as they’re competitive and they want to do well.”
One change DeLucca made this year that he expects will benefit the team was adding Amir Saadah to his staff. He hopes Saadah, the Cutters' football coach, will be able to convince football players to join the wrestling team.
In years past, the wrestling team has had a tough time filling the upper weight classes, but DeLucca thinks adding football players to the squad could solve that problem and prove mutually beneficial for Saadah.
“In talking to Amir, there’s a couple guys that he’s interested in trying to get out,” DeLucca said. “Usually the upper weights are his linemen. And wrestling definitely improves footwork and balance and coordination, so if he gets his guys out it can improve his football program as well.”
The wrestling team begins practice in late November.