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New Seton Hall Prep head wrestling coach Lou Mascola addresses the Pirate mat faithful in the room as the former scholastic and collegiate matman is introduced as SHP's ninth coach in the sport's rich history. Mascola, who was a 4-year assistant, is taking the reins over from 11-year head man Jack Decker. (Sideline Chatter photos)

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“I am so grateful to be in this position and try and continue this legacy,” said the new head Pirate mat mentor. “Nothing is really going to change moving forward and we’re going to continue to try and help our Pirate wrestlers be the very best they can be.

“The example that Coach Decker has set has been phenomenal and it’s been a pleasure to work under him the past four seasons.”

While Decker is concentrating on helping raise his young family and also the family business, he will almost certainly still be seen occasionally somewhere in Tracey Gymnasium and perhaps at other venues where the Pirate matmen compete in the future.

“Jack did a tremendous job, is a great individual and will always be a part of this program,” said SHP Athletic Director Larry Baggitt. “The staff is staying aboard which will make for a nice and smooth transition.

“Lou has great expertise and is very good at the technical aspects so Jack has certainly left the program in very good hands.

“No one really ever retires here and always seems to come back which is the beauty of The Prep, while we always try to keep the tradition of our sports remaining strong moving forward.”

For SHP headmaster Mike Gallo, who coached wrestling as an assistant at The Prep for 20 years, spoke about the ‘true testament’ that is when alums come back to coach at the school.

“Our last two coaches before Lou were Dino DiBellonia and Jack, who are both men of high integrity and great character,” he added. “Looking forward Lou brings more when it comes to faith, family, passion and courage.”

And, the tradition and lineage should be there for many more years.

“What Jack and Lou have in common is that they both come from great families and are gentlemen in kind but have that tenacity within them and the kids respect that!”

The SHP wrestling program will be talent laden once again next winter with state qualifiers Joseph Sciarrone (106) Bucknell commit Conner Decker (138), Cole Carroll (145) and Lehigh commit Jack Wilt (160) all ready to return to the Pirates wrestling room.

And, the change in head coaches should alter very much that goes on at practice or during matches.

“Both coaches are similar in the room and really know the latest about teaching the sport,” said Sciarrone, who was one of the wrestlers present at SHP for Wednesday’s big announcement. “Coach Decker and Coach Mascola always push us to the highest level and not only work us hard, but also know their stuff technically.

“I see things remaining very much the same in terms of intensity and everyone pushing to help us be the best team we can be.”

NOTES- Mascola was inducted into the Region 3 Hall of Fame this past season…He is a 4-time Essex County, District and Region champion…Decker’s first season at the helm was in 2008-2009…The Pirates finished 19-1 in 2017-2018 when they also achieved a No. 6 ranking in the state during the season…Everyone expressed hope that a 2020-2021 wrestling season can indeed happen amid the COVID-19 virus. “It will all depend on the guidelines,” said Gallo. “I remember in the past when we had to deal with Mersa and herpes and we weren’t sure about the state of wrestling, but we bounced back then and I’m optimistic right now that we’ll have a season.”…Gallo said he also thought that a 2020 high school football season “will probably start later” (or sometime in September). The Week Zero late August original openers have already been postponed…Gallo also said that SHP is looking to open ‘full swing’ for school in September with all the social distancing masks and everything else in place.         

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister 

Seton Hall Prep headmaster Mike Gallo (left) stands alongside two Pirate wrestling stars of the past and head coaches at the school in the newly-appointed head man Lou Mascola who takes over top spot from Jack Decker (right) who steps aside after 11 solid seasons.

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