Back Home In Indiana: Former Pride Assistant, Dubuque, Returns to Hoosiers

Following several weeks of underground rumor and scuttlebutt that Joe Dubuque would not be returning for a fourth season on the Pride bench, the news came down yesterday morning that the former two-time NCAA titlist would be returning to the place that made him the champion that he is today, Bloomington, Indiana.

A 2006 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Recreation Sports Management, Dubuque will step in and join a Hoosier staff that includes Duane Goldman and Pat DeGain…The hiring of the current Hauppauge resident seems incredibly educated and well timed by the IU wrestling program as it found itself in need of a premier lightweight coach following an announcement made several months ago by Mike Mena, Joe Dubuque’s mentor, that he would step down from his position as the Hoosiers’ top assistant.

In three years on the HU staff, Dubuque more than demonstrated how adept he was at cultivating talent, as no Hofstra wrestler at 125 or 133 pounds have failed to qualify for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament finals with Joe in their corner…In 2007, Dubuque not only aided Dave Tomasette in winning the conference title, he also assisted him in wrestling to the round of 12 at the NCAA National tournament, a career best for the former Pride superstar.

This past season, Dubuque has been credited with the quick transition made by true freshman, Steve Bonanno from high school to the collegiate scene…Only a one-time State Champion, the former wrestler from Wantagh came to Hofstra unheralded….However, by the time 2009 had ended, everyone knew the name. In addition to becoming a perennial member of the national top-20 by mid-season, Bonanno was instrumental in helping a very youthful Pride team to a 10-6 overall record (5-1 in conference). Finishing second on the team in wins with 29, Bonanno not only was an NCAA qualifier, but also won a in St. Louis for the Pride…He also became the first recipient of the Diano NYS College Freshman of the Year Award…..All of which may not have been achieved if not for the influence of Coach Dubuque.

Not to be outdone is Pride Junior, Lou Ruggirello. With Dubuque in his corner every step of his college career thus far, the Academic All-American from Valley Central has been a monster on the mat for the Pride since moment one….Already a three-time CAA Champion, Ruggirello has made the round of 12 the past two years for Pride. In 2008, he was the Gorrarian Award winner, given to the wrestler with the most falls at the NCAA tournament. In 2009 he was every bit as good, leading the team in victories (30) and pins (15). He will embark upon his senior season one win short of the century mark.

Anytime the two wrestlers you are most responsible for working with combine to win 59 matches in a single season, one thing is certain; you are a hell of a coach. It goes without saying that Joe Dubuque is this and more.

In 2010 Dubuque should be in a good spot to see his first coached wrestler become a National Champion. He will inherit the services of three-time All-American and 2008 National Champion, Angel Escobedo….A fifth place finisher in 2009, Escobedo hopes to return to the form that made him a champion the year before. Standing in his way should be fellow three-time All-American and the returning National champ, Cornell’s Troy Nickerson….Escobedo, who has yet to get the better of the Big Red wrestler during their collegiate careers should benefit greatly from having Dubuque on the bench next year. After all, if there is one person who would know how to beat Nickerson in a match for all of the marbles, it would be Dubuque who did just that in winning the second of his back-to-back titles.

On behalf of myself and all of the nameless, faceless HU wrestling enthusiasts that I represent, allow me to publicly thank Joe Dubuque for his three great years of service to the University…He was the rare breed of asset that cannot be replicated and/or replaced…I wish him, his wife Jamie, and their young son Chase a very safe move to Indiana….Best of luck to Joe and the Hoosiers in 2010 and beyond….My alma mater’s loss is Indiana’s gain !!!

RELATED LINK: Dubuque Returns to Indiana

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