RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Elson Smajlaj (SMAI-lai) of North Bergen has been appointed the head coach of the women's and men's cross-country teams at Felician University, Felician director of athletics Ben DiNallo Jr. announced today.
Smajlaj replaces Rob DeCarlo Jr., who resigned after three seasons. He is the fourth coach in the history of both Golden Falcon programs, which will begin their 19th seasons in September.
From 2013-2016, Smajlaj was the head women's and men's coach at Bloomfield College, like Felician a member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. He was voted the CACC Women's Coach of the Year in 2014 and the league's Men's Coach of the year in 2016. His 2014 women's squad also won the CACC Team Sportsmanship Award.
Smajlaj's men's team finished second at the 2016 CACC Championship meet. His best result with the Bear women was fourth in 2014.
Smajlaj, who was born and raised in Albania, enjoyed a standout scholastic career at North Bergen High School. He was a four-year performer and three-year captain in men's cross-country at Bloomfield, where he was a three-time selection to the CACC Fall All-Academic team.
Smajlaj graduated from Bloomfield in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics education, and completed a master's in mathematics from New Jersey City University in 2018. He is a math teacher and the head boys' and girls' indoor and outdoor track & field coach at North Bergen High. He has led the Bruins to two Hudson County indoor championships and the last three outdoor titles, and is a two-time HCTCA county outdoor Coach of the Year.
Felician University is a member of NCAA Division II. The Golden Falcons have won nine CACC men's cross-country team championships, most recently in 2011.
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,400 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.