Shawn Scannell has been dreaming of taking over the Absegami High School wrestling program since he graduated from Rider University in 2001.

His dream came true on Monday.

Scannell will take over for 33-year coach Gene Barber, while Mike Bult, a 1995 Absegami graduate, will coach the boys basketball team, replacing Greg Goodwin, the school announced Monday.

"It kind of always was a dream of mine to come out of college and be given the opportunity early to help out," Scannell said by telephone Monday evening. "Since then, it's (becoming head coach) been in the back of my mind the whole time. I learned a lot from Barber. He taught me a whole lot of inside tricks of what it takes to be a good head coach and I look forward to the future."

Scannell wrestled for the Braves from 1993-96 and has been an assistant coach for eight years. His first order of business was to "surround (him)self with great assistants", which he says Barber always stressed. Scott Roesch (whom he co-coaches boys tennis with), Mike Sykes, Jimmy Stevens and Jim Brown will be his assistants.

Bult, who transferred to Absegami before his junior year, was on the first Braves team to have a winning season. He averaged 13.3 points during his senior season. He's been an assistant for seven years.

Like Scannell, Bult says he learned a lot from his boss as well.

"He's been a good mentor, for sure. Over the last couple of years I just tried to grab all kinds of basketball principles and different ideas," Bult, who lives in Galloway Township, said Monday night.

Scannell, who now resides in Mays Landing, compiled a 107-13 record in a Braves singlet, including a 31-0 senior season in 1996, when he won the Region 8 and state championship at 171 pounds. He also was a three-time District 32 champion. In college, he earned All-America honors and was 102-27 for his career. In September he was inducted into the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"I take great pride in the program. My brother (Bob) wrestled for Absegami and there's many friends I'm still in touch with from my team," Scannell said.

"The school and program always treated me well. There is a great amount of tradition and it's in my heart. I'm brown and gold and that's the major reason I came back."

Contact Kelly Ashe:

609-272-7210