Dan O’Cone Goes Out On Top
Dan O’Cone has certainly gone out on top. After 7 years as wrestling coach at Brick Memorial O’Cone made official Thursday what many had known for weeks: he is stepping down as coach of the perennial state power.
O’Cone’s Mustangs won three Group 4 state championships during his tenure with the most recent coming this past winter when Brick Memorial also claimed the Class A South and Shore Conference Tournament titles. For all of that he was named coach of the year by the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association as well as Region 6 Coach of the Year.
The married father of a young daughter, O’Cone is leaving what he’s called his dream job because it’s simply time. A former region champion at Point Pleasant Beach who was later a three-time All American at what is now The College of New Jersey, O’Cone does not view this as a hiatus and has no plans to return to the mat.
He feels he can no longer bring the energy and enthusiasm needed to coach a high-caliber program like Memorial’s and it is time for someone else to take the reins. His teams won 147 matches and lost just 32 over seven seasons and before that he coached his alma mater Point Beach for six years.
O’Cone was just the third head coach in Brick Memorial history. The legendary Tony Caravella patrolled the mats for 23 years before retiring after the 2003 season and he was followed by former Mustang wrestler Dean Albanese, who ran the show for three seasons. Albanese relinquished the head coach job but stayed on as O’Cone’s top assistant and speculation is the next Stang head coach might come from outside the program.
Among the names being mentioned is Mike Denver, a 2012 TCNJ graduate who capped his college career by winning a Division III National Championship and later was named an Academic All-American. Denver was a high school standout at Central Regional.
Whoever is the next head coach at Brick Memorial inherits plenty of talent but has to fill big shoes…on and off the mat. O’Cone was respected state-wide for his abilities as a coach and leader and he brought class and dignity to a rough-and-tumble sport.
As for his first task in retirement, he’s scheduled for hip replacement surgery this weekend. You can be sure he’ll recover faster than most.