Marc Maturo’s official sports column
Mat star Muldoon looks to grind out college career
John Muldoon of Pearl River has always been a grinder, and a grinder he expects to be when the scholastic wrestling standout continues his career at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The Cougars, under veteran coach Jeremy Spates, have elevated the program from Division II to the highly competitive Division I status, and Muldoon is already ready to play his part.
“I’m pretty pumped up about it,” enthused Muldoon who, despite a disappointing fifth-place finish at 132 pounds at the NYS Wrestling Championships , remains upbeat and always ready to enjoy the process.
“It’s about enjoying the battle and not the outcome,” said Muldoon, who was fourth in the state as a junior.
“Coach Spates is awesome,” notes Muldoon, who adds that he has already been blessed with great coaches, including Pearl River’s Grier Yorks, Billy Donnelly and Billy Allison.
Billy Donnelly is the older brother of another of Muldoon’s personal coaches, Phil Donnelly, who was a four-time state-place finisher and Section 1 champion for the Pirates. Also mentoring young Muldoon is Matt Homenick, also a state-place winner and a former Section 1 champion.
Coach Spates, who spent nine years as an assistant at Cornell and Oklahoma (under his dad, Jack Spates) before taking over at Southern Illinois, considers Muldoon one of several prospects who will make an impact.
“We are a team with a good history, but not in recent years. So we are working hard to move back up,” Coach Spates told the Rockland County Times. “We just transitioned from D2 to D1 and I just got the job here so we are getting better … trying to bring in good, hard-working kids that buy into our dreams of the future.”
Muldoon has already made friendships with future teammates.
“When I went down there I knew nobody, but I met with everybody and now I do (know everybody),” Muldoon said. “The cool thing about it is none of them are leaving soon; most are freshman and sophomores.”
Muldoon said he might be red-shirted as a freshman, and has no qualms about that or the much-stiffer competition he’ll face in a D1 schedule.
“I’m a grinder,” repeats Muldoon, who can laugh at his time as a freshman when he competed at 96 pounds. “I was actually about 88 pounds and had to eat to make weight! I wish that was the problem now.”
At college, Muldoon will wrestle at 133 or 141, “whatever Coach needs I’ll make the weight. I’m 145 now.”
Muldoon – who also trains with club teams at the Iron Horse in East Hanover, N.J., and the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan — recalls his growth on the mat as being more of a process than instant success, and expects the same formula to be at work at the collegiate level.
“I usually don’t see success early, but I’m a grinder, and I’m just going to grind it out again out there. Everybody tells me these will be the best four years of my life … we’ll see,” said Muldoon. “High school was a good run, I had a good time, I was blessed.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Stony Point native Mike Deane, who has enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a college basketball coach, recently completed his 35th year in the game. Deane is an assistant coach at James Madison University in Harrisburg, Va., which went 11-20 this season but won the Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2012, Deane’s first year at JMU.
POCHOLO PREVAILS: The Purchase College men’s tennis team lost a tight match against visiting NYU-Poly, 5-4, in its season opener, but senior Pocholo Chavez of Stony Point recorded two victories. Chavez, an alum of Ramapo HS, won his singles match and teamed up with rookie Danny De La Cruz of the Bronx to win at No. 2 doubles. The Panthers are now on spring break, with four matches scheduled in Orlando, Fla., against Hamline University, Luther College, UW Osh Kosh and Piedmont College. The Panthers return east on March 29 to meet St. Joseph’s in Patchogue, L.I., at 1 p.m., and are home on April 1 to host Western Connecticut State University at 3:30 p.m.
WILDCATS WILT IN FINAL: The 18th-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team ended its season at 22-18-1 following a 4-0 defeat to defending champion and seventh-ranked UMass Lowell in the Hockey East Championship at the TD Garden in Boston. “The difficult part is it’s a team with great chemistry. We wanted to keep going,” veteran Wildcats coach Dick Umile was quoted as saying. “Not only were they winning, and playing hard, but we were enjoying it and having fun doing it. It’s tough for the season to end.” The Wildcats had advanced to the championship game with a decisive 3-1 victory over Providence College, sparked by junior forward Matt Willows of Congers, who had two key assists. Willows, a product of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL), who could usually be found hustling on the right wing, finished third on the team in scoring with 39 points on 18 goals and 21 assists.
DeSTASO, PIRATES PREVAIL: Junior Danielle DeStaso of Congers sparked the Seton Hall University softball team as it swept a doubleheader from Big East rival Providence College, 5-0, 12-3 at Mike Sheppard Field in South Orange, N.J. DeStaso, an alumna of Clarkstown North HS, went 2-for-3 with two RBI and her fourth homer of the year in the opener. In the second game, DeStaso threw all five innings to improve to 3-3 on the year. After early trouble she settled in to allow just one more earned run over the final four innings, finishing with three strikeouts.
CONQUER THE HOOK: The 25th running of the Hook Mountain Half Marathon, sponsored by the Rockland Road Runners, is set for April 6. All finishers will receive a first-time-ever designer medal when they cross the finish line at Rockland Lake State Park. Steve Borton is race director for the Hook, a humbling 200-foot climb, which is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. in the north parking lot at Rockland Lake State Park in Congers. For information contact Kristen Lowenwirth at Klowenwirth@gmail.com.
QUICK HITTERS: Senior goalkeeper Matthew Quinones of Nanuet made 20 saves and midfielder Hunter Curran of Virginia Beach, Va., had a season-high four goals in leading the Dominican College men’s lacrosse team to a 9-8 victory over Post University in a non-conference game at Waterbury, Conn. The win, the Chargers’ first following four defeats, was also helped by Conor Reeves of Tappan, with one goal and an assist, and Thomas Dertinger of Nanuet with one goal. The Chargers then lost an East Coast Conference (ECC) game to Roberts Weslyan College, 17-7, at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in Hillburn. Dertinger, a senior, notched his ninth goal of the season, assited by Sean Driscoll of Stony Point. Quinones made 14 saves in defeat. … Sophomore Charles Garcia of Sparkill posted two victories by pin and lost four matches on the SUNY Oneonta wrestling team. The Red Dragons went 10-9 in dual meets and tied for fourthplace at the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championships, and eighth at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. … Junior infielder Anthony Barbetto of New City is batting a third-best .304 with three stolen bases in four attempts on the Brockport baseball team. The Golden Eagles visit New Paltz for a three-game series beginning with a single game on March 28, and a twinbill on March 29. Matt Lawson of West Nyack and Tyler Mitts (1-1) of Nanuet are pitching at New Paltz. … Freshman outfielder John Kukura of New City is batting .308 with three RBI on the Pace University baseball team, which was to host Mercy College of Dobbs Ferry on March 27 and stays home on April 1 to meet Adelphi, at 3 p.m. Junior pitcher Bryan Greig of New City is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts for Mercy. … Sophomore goaltender Brittany Kiernan of Clarkstown made 14 saves as the Dominican College women’s lacrosse team fell to the Purple Knights from Saint Michael’s College, 12-9, in a non-conference game at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in Hillburn. … Junior pitcher Frank Fantino of Nanuet has a 3.00 ERA in two starting assignments for the Purchase College baseball team, which hosts CCNY on March 29 for a noon twinbill, and then welcomes Farmingdale State College on March 30, for another scheduled doubleheader at noon. Pitching for the Beavers of CCNY are Spring Valley HS alum Sacha Urbach (0-1) of Chestnut Ridge and senior Felice Martino of Thiells, a Rockland CC transfer, who is also 0-1. … Albertus Magnus HS graduate Samantha Lowney of Valley Cottage had four goals and two assists as the St. Thomas Aquinas College women’s lacrosse team snapped a two-game slide with a 15-7 victory over visiting Mercy College. Meg McNally of Hillburn had three assists in defeat. The Lady Spartans received five goals from Jen Stickney of Bayport, and two goals and two assists from Margaret Sharp of Suffern. STAC looks to improve its 5-2 record on March 29 with a home game in Sparkill at 1 p.m. against the University of Findlay (Ohio) on Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Day. The Lady Spartans stay home on April 1 to welcome Queens College at 3:30 p.m. … Freshman Shayne Gallagher of Blauvelt scored an unassisted goal and sophomore Brittany Kiernan of Clarkstown made 11 saves as the Dominican College women’s lacrosse team fell to Georgian Court University, 13-9, in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest in Lakewood, N.J. The Lady Chargers (0-4) meet Post University on March 29 at 11 a.m. at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in Hillburn. … North Rockland HS graduate Rebecca Sassone of Pomona competed on the Second Novice Eights as the University of Delaware women’s rowing team placed second in a quad meet with Drexel, Temple and Lehigh on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The Blue Hens return to the water on March 29 at the Murphy Cup Regatta on Mercer Lake in Princeton, N.J. … Sophomore midfielder/defender Lely DeSimone of Airmont is third in scoring with 11 goals and one assist for 12 points on the University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team, which meets Georgetown on April 1 at the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md. … East Coast Conference (ECC) baseball player of the week Rich Baerga of Pomona had five hits in a doubleheader as St. Thomas Aquinas College completed a four-game series sweep over the University of Bridgeport, taking two games at NYIT, 7-5, 3-2. The Spartans improved to 10-5 overall and grabbed sole possession of the conference lead with a 4-0 mark.
THIS & THAT: The Collegiate Development Football League (CDFL) is offering a 50 percent discount to county residents to see former college players from every major division compete in one last Scout Bowl Game before the NFL Draft. Click www.cdflbowlgames.com and enter promo code: rockland2014. The game is scheduled April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in Hillburn.