SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- South Plainfield High School senior Zachary DelVecchio won’t have to go far to wrestle in college.
Just about six miles separates SPHS and the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, where DelVecchio will do his grappling for head coach Scott Goodale and the Scarlet Knights.
DelVecchio committed to Rutgers and the staff a few days ago, but made it public on Monday.
“It’s pretty exciting. I went on my official visit there this past Thursday and it seemed like a good place for me,” DelVecchio told TAPinto South Plainfield on Tuesday morning. “I’ve been around the program for a long time and my brother went there. It seems like a good place to be.
“After I stayed overnight on my official visit on Thursday, on Friday morning, I was talking to coach Goodale and he said I could go home and talk to my parents and let me know. Then the next morning, I texted all of the coaches saying I would love to be a part of the Rutgers wrestling program.”
DelVecchio will become the 10th former South Plainfield Tiger to wrestle for Rutgers. His older brother Scott, who exhausted his eligibility at the end of the 2018 season, was an All-American last year when he placed sixth at 133.
Zach DelVecchio said his brother was in his ear about going to Rutgers, but was never over the top about it.
“He would have liked me to, but he didn’t push me. He was going to support me with whatever I decided,” DelVecchio said. “It’s a pretty cool thing we have going where almost every year we have a South Plainfield kid there no matter what.”
Former Tiger and now Scarlet Knight Anthony Ashnault, who finished his Rutgers career with a program record 123 wins, won the 149-pound NCAA national title last month. He was the New Jersey’s first NJSIAA undefeated four-time state champion at SPHS.
“It was pretty awesome watching someone I knew and grew up with because of my brother win a national title,” DelVecchio said.
DelVecchio ranks fourth in South Plainfield wrestling history with 158 wins. He won the 220-pound NJSIAA crown in Atlantic City this winter, his first.
“It was exciting,” DelVecchio said. “I just wanted to go out there and do what I do best and I won my title. I should have did it last year but I got sick.”
Along with wrestling, DelVecchio took up football and enjoyed it. He enjoyed it so much that he gave a lot of thought about playing on the gridiron at the next level instead of locking horns on the mat. However, he chose wrestling.
“It was on mind for a while honestly. I was going back and forth,” DelVecchio said. “I wanted to play football for a little bit, but I switched to wrestling. I feel like I have a better opportunity with wrestling than football in college.”
In the high school ranks, there are 14 weight classes, but in college, there are only 10. It jumps from 197-pounds up to heavyweight.
DelVecchio revealed that he will be at heavyweight at Rutgers and likely redshirt in 2019-20.
On his way to a state title a couple months ago, DelVecchio scored a late escape to top St. Peter’s Prep‘s Niccolo Colucci, 3-2. Colucci’s brother, Christian, is the starting heavyweight for the Scarlet Knights who is a rising redshirt senior.
DelVecchio is shorter than the Rutgers big man, but is stocky and athletic. Those kind of heavyweights are finding more and more success at the college level in recent years.
And much like Scott DelVecchio, Zach DelVecchio wants to be a fan favorite and get the crowd going at the RAC.
“I’m just going to go out on the mat and give everything I got and lead the crowd,” DelVecchio said. “I’m more of a I’m going to push you until you mess up type of wrestler. I’ll find an opening and shoot for the leg. I’m aggressive than defensive.”
South Plainfield is a smaller, tight-knit town. It’s only 10-15 minutes away from where Rutgers has its duals. Proximity to home wasn’t a big factor for DelVecchio, but being that close will certainly make things easier.
“It wasn’t that important to stay close, but I think it will benefit me wrestling by helping me adjust better,” DelVecchio said.
“Rutgers is the only place I want to wrestle at.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.