Friday July 9th was a good night for Hofstra University Head Wrestling Coach, Tom Shifflet, as he learned that the Pride had just picked up their first recruit from the class of 2011 when 2010 NYS DI 171-pound State runner-up/2x Nassau County Champion Joe Kavanagh of Wantagh High School informed the fourth year coach of his decision to give a verbal commitment to the hometown university. In doing so, the rising senior becomes the third high profile Warrior wrestler in as many years to choose the Hempstead based institution of higher learning. He will be joined by Steve Bonanno (2009 NCAA Qualifier @125) and Matt Loew (2x NYS DI Finalist/anticipated starter at 197 in 2011). In speaking with Kavanagh’s father, Jim, the realization that his son would be donning the Pride Blue & Gold in 2012 was described as a dream come true for the family, especially the future HU student-athlete himself.
A regular participant in national level events since 7th grade, Kavanagh has been an impact player in Section VIII since his freshman year at Levittown-Division High School, finishing as the DI county runner-up at 152-pounds; his only loss being at the hands of current Minnesota State-Moorhead rising junior Kerron Williams 8-6 in sudden victory.
Following a decision to transfer to neighboring Wantagh to join a stacked team consisting of the likes of 2x NYS Champions Paul Liguori (Harvard University) and John Greisheimer (Edinboro University), Loew, and 2009 Nassau County titlist Nick Fitzmaurice, as well as 2010 NYS runner-up Joe Barbato, Kavanagh experienced no sophomore jinx as he punched his own ticket to the State tournament via a 6-4 decision victory over John Daddino (Sewanhaka East High School) in the 171-pound title match. This effort, along with the collective contributions of the aforementioned proved pivotal in helping the Warriors win their first of back-to-back county team titles.
While the NYS tournament did not go quite as well for Kavanagh as he would have preferred, failing to place after losing to a pair of more mature and equally talented foes in the persons of 2010 State Champion Angelo Malvestuto (headed to Virginia Tech) and 2009 Suffolk County Champ Josue Mendez, who finished third and forth respectively last season. However, this loss would prove to be an immense motivational force as Kavanagh would put an emphatic cap on his remarkable sophomore campaign by finishing 4th at the NHSCA National tournament. This would be the second All-American honor earned by the young man, joining his 6th place finish in Iowa at the 2007 USA Nationals Tournament.
Kavanagh would build off of this momentum in 2010, scoring bonus points in three of his four matches (including a 12-2 major decision in the Nassau finals) to repeat as the 171-pound champion in Section VIII. This clutch display of wrestling would carry over into the NYS tournament in Albany where the junior classman outscored his first three opponents by a combined score of 27-11 to earn his first state final’s birth….While again, Kavanagh would find himself on the wrong end of a 3-2 match against a more seasoned opponent, 2010 Suffolk County Champion Billy Coggins (headed to Virginia), one can never fail to give credit where credit is deserved. Finishing his junior season with an overall record of 36-2 (his only other loss also coming to Coggins at an early season dual, by an equally close 9-7 score), it is no wonder that a handful of schools were lobbying to land the services of this incredibly talented young man. However, despite going through the process of scheduling several official visits to other DI programs, Kavanagh’s heart always belonged to HU. Hence, when the offer was received, it proved to be too good to pass up.
Projected as a 174/184 pounder on the collegiate level, the acquisition of Kavanagh is sure to fill a need for the Pride as both of their starters at these weight classes enter 2011 with two years of eligibility remaining. In other words, if all goes well, HU enthusiasts should expect to see the hometown hero in the starting line-up as soon as his redshirt freshman year in 2013.
Featuring a pair of talented assistant coaches in NCAA qualifier Rob Anspach and former NCAA DIII National Champion/2010 World Team Trials 4th place finisher Terry Madden, as well as returning starters/practice partners Ryan Patrovich (2x CAA finalist/NCAA round of 12 in 2009) and Ben Clymer (2010 CAA finalist) there is no doubt that Kavanagh will have a strong support system to help him make the adjustment and realize his full athletic potential.
The blue-chip prospect can make the commitment official when he signs his National Letter of Intent (NLI) during the early signing period, which extends this year from November 10th through November 17th. While the Wantagh grappler is the first Empire Stater to formally give a verbal commitment to the college of his choice, he is expected to be joined by yet another deep class of NYS’ finest.
On behalf of everyone at LHW, we sincerely congratulate Joe and his family on the big news…We also thank his father, Jim, for contributing greatly to this story. Without his input, this article would not have been possible….Best of luck to Joe and the rest of the 2011 Warriors on their quest to three-peat.