Hudson County Coaching Icon John E. Nagel Has Passed Away

It is with a very heavy heart that we pass along the sad news that John E. Nagel, a Hall of Fame coach at St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City and a towering presence in the sport of cross-country and track and field in Hudson County for six decades, has passed away.

Nagel, a member of multiple Hall of Fames who racked up more than 200 championships since taking over the St. Dominic track and field and cross-county program in 1978, died this past Friday at the age of 65.

During his legendary coaching career, he led St. Dominic to 108 Jersey City Championships, 80 Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships, 52 Hudson County Championships, add three Non-Public B State Championships.

For all his accomplishments, Nagel was inducted into the Hudson County Coaches Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1999, the New Jersey State Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000, the St. Peter's University Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Hudson County All Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. And in 2019, part of cross-country course at Lincoln Park in Jersey City was named the "John E. Nagel Running Path."

Nagel did it all in this sport. He served as a meet director, an official, and often did the announcing at track and field and XC meets.

While known most for his coaching success, the most important part of Nagel's life was being a father to his loving daughter, Ashley.

The running community has suffered a huge loss with the passing of Nagel, and many of his friends and colleagues have weighed in with their thoughts on the lasting impact he had on them and the sport.   

"When anyone talked about track and mentioned Jersey City, only one name came into everyone's mind , John Nagel,'' said Bill Klimas, Nagel's longtime friend and a veteran T&F and XC official and meet director.  "He was the catalyst that raised and restored the viability and success of the city's track and field program. His tireless effort was the glue that bound that program together. He was best identified by his dedication and love for his St. Dominic's Academy teams. John's teams were not only the pride of the "Boulevard", but also a force with which to be dealt by opponents across the state. The spirit of Coach Nagel will forever dwell within the walls of the Jersey City Armory where he spent countless hours, months and years. His unique sense of humor and comedic smile will live on long in our memories. John had a tremendously positive effect on us all and overflowed with the inspiration he instilled in his athletes, friends and the entire track community.''

"I met John through our sport back in the early 80's and I hired him as a bartender at the "Bridge Tavern,'' said John Tonero, a good friend of Nagel's and a longtime track and field coach and meet director. "John was a legend at SDA and will be truly missed by not only his current team, but by his alumni runners and athletes. May God's blessings be with him as the entire T&F community mourns his passing.''

"John did so much for the track & field community,'' said Marc MacNaughton, a friend's of Nagel's and a veteran track and field and XC official. "Reminiscing, I would meet John by the gate & give him 5 passes to get into Penn Relays every year. And a month ago we spoke on the phone and he asked me if I would be getting them for him again. I told him yes. That was the last time we spoke, and I secured him clerks for his SDA meet as he was stuck in Florida in  the hospital. He was a character and did a lot for track. He will surely be missed!''

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.