Randolph NJ- “My goal is to win States,” said freshman Matt DeStefanis. “I’m not satisfied until that happens.”
Weighing only 106 pounds and measuring five foot three inches, DeStefanis may be the smallest, but he is also one of the best wrestlers on the varsity team at Randolph High School. Case in point: he went 17-0 without giving up a single point to start the season, while finishing 37-3 overall and being selected First Team Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference National Division.
DeStefanis, who is a freshman on varsity, is setting high goals for himself, hoping to wrestle Division 1 at Penn State and win a state championship.
“It feels good to wrestle with the best guys there are,” DeStefanis commented about making varsity. “We’re like a family. There’s definitely a brotherhood between us.”
DeStefanis is off to a good start, having had a super successful freshman season. His biggest motivators are his family, and two incredibly successful Randolph wrestlers, AJ Vindici, and Pat Glory, whom he grew up watching.
His dad, Carl DeStefanis, a former high school and collegiate wrestler, is definitely his biggest fan and motivator. Carl won the NCAA wrestling competition and was the best wrestler in the country in 1984. The younger DeStefanis hopes to follow in his footsteps.
Fellow freshman varsity wrestler Charlie Treston said he knew Matt “would be good, but not this good.” The two of them have been wrestling together for ten years and Treston says Matt has always been great. “Matt walked in as a leader,” he said.
Junior Liam Hull, another teammate, said his first impression of Matt’s wrestling was that he seemed like he knew what to do, and he was a hard worker. “He was always really, really good,” he added.
Both teammates said they did not see Matt as an underdog because he is short, and agreed he is very strong for his size.
In the offseason, DeStefanis wrestled on a club team, worked out four to five days a week, and ran miles in the morning before school to ensure he was ready for high school competition. He also had to gain weight to compete in the 106 pound weight class prior to the season.
Although DeStefanis does not have a special move, he does have a strategy prior to his matches. He warms up and drills hard to get sweat going. He also keeps himself moving before he goes out onto the mat. “You don’t want to go out cold,” he added.
DeStefanis said that during a match he’s “so focused and in the moment” that he can’t hear what his coaches are saying to him. His main coach, Mike Suk, has had a positive influence on him as a wrestler. “My coaches don’t really care about winning or losing. They just want me to wrestle my best,” he commented.
Treston added, “Matt gets real physical real fast” and wrestles hard and smart with technique. Hull agreed with Treston about DeStefanis’ technique, saying “He’s the best technical wrestler we have.”
Matt believes he is on the team with a big name for himself even at 106 pounds, and his team members can agree. Treston remarked, “Matt’s the best wrestler on the team, unquestionable.”
“Wrestling is not just about winning,” said DeStefanis “It’s about competing. It’s that sense that every time I wrestle I’m going to compete and score points. It’s that one on one concept that everyone’s so focused on, but it’s also about competing and giving all you have to put up points for your team.”
Editor's Note: Sophie Difusco is a Freshman at Randolph High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Randolph.