The man with one of the most recognizable names in the South Jersey wrestling community, Joe Melchiore, is no longer the coach of the St. Augustine Prep wrestling team.
Melchiore, who had been at the helm at the Prep for four years, was removed from his full-time maintenance job at the school last week and, according to athletic director Dennis Foreman, St. Augustine thought it would be in the school's best interest to remove him for his coaching duties as well.
Foreman said the search to replace Melchiore will begin immediately and that two potential replacements will be interviewed today. He said wrestling activities will begin next week and there will be an effort to find a replacement quickly.
Last season the Hermits went 21-9 and reached the Non-Public A South final. The team also scored its first win ever over Paulsboro and saw two wrestlers, Joe Esposito and Mark Patterson, reach the 100-career victory mark.
"We feel extremely strong about our wrestling program," Foreman said.
Melchiore was hired just one week into the season in 2008 after former coach Keith Hoover was abruptly fired as assistant athletic director and coach.
Melchiore was a three-time state champion at Highland with a career record of 125-3. He later went on to become an NCAA Division I runner-up at Iowa. He was a four-time All-American.
He is generally considered one of the best high school wrestlers in South Jersey and New Jersey history.
"There's not a better technical instructor in our immediate area," Foreman said. "He leaves our program in outstanding shape and we own him a debt of gratitude."