WAYNE, NJ - For nearly fifteen years, Keith Karsen guided DePaul Catholic High School to prominence on the state level in wrestling. Now, Karsen is off to a new coaching job as the head coach at The Pingry School, in Martinsville, NJ.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” said Karsen, who will remain as an educator at DePaul. “Obviously, DePaul is very special to me. It’s never easy to leave a place where there’s been a lot of success, but most importantly, the chance to work with some great kids, coaches and parents.”

Karsen put together a 150-69 record at DePaul. He guided the Spartans to eight straight North Non-Public B sectional titles, from 2010-2017, as well as four straight state championships, in Non-Public B, from 2014-2017. He also led DePaul to six district championships, including five straight from 2013-2017.

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Karsen would coach three state champion wrestlers in David McFadden (in 2014 and 2015), Brandon Kui (2016) and Ricky Cabanillas (2018). In addition, DePaul had nine state finalists during Karsen’s tenure and twenty-four state place winners. He also coached twelve DePaul wrestlers that went on to compete in college on the Division 1 level.

Though Karsen is leaving, the DePaul program will be in good shape, as assistant coach A.J. Mott will take over the top role.

“A.J. is going to do a great job,” said Karsen. “He and (2007 NJSIAA champion and current assistant coach) Trevor Melde will make the transition a smooth one.”

A graduate of DePaul, where he wrestled, Karsen went on to Duke University, and was captain of the wrestling team there, in 1991. A decade later, Karsen returned to DePaul as a teacher, and four years after that, began his tenure as head wrestling coach.

Karsen and his wife, Maureen, have three children. Eldest daughter Kendra is a nurse at Beth Israel Hospital, middle son, Ryan, is a sophomore at the University of Alabama and youngest son, Reed, is a junior at DePaul Catholic.

Pingry’s director of athletics, Carter Abbott, expressed her happiness on Karsen’s appointment.

“We are so thrilled to bring a coach of Keith Karsen’s caliber to Pingry,” Abbott said in a press release. “His record of developing quality wrestlers speaks for itself. Our wrestlers can’t wait to work with him.”

Ironically, the last match Karsen coached at DePaul would be the 145-pound state final, between Ricky Cabanillas and Lucas Revano of Camden Catholic, last March, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City.

The two wrestlers went into overtime, before Revano won by fall in a tense bout. Despite the loss, Cabanillas was gracious in defeat and he and Revano showed true sportsmanship in their post-match handshake, in what was the final match of the evening.

“I was so impressed with Ricky’s performance and the way he handled himself after a tough loss,” said Karsen. “I saw a young man give it his all and conduct himself with class afterward. As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that.”

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Mike Lamberti is a freelance reporter and blogger who covers multiple sports in multiple towns. Visit his blog when you can: https://mikelamberti.wordpress.com/ 

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