High school star at next level
A two-time high school state champion, freshman Vincent Dellefave got scholarship offers from premier wrestling programs all over the east coast, including powerhouse Penn State.
But for the Toms River, N.J., native, the decision to stay in the Garden State and compete for the Rutgers wrestling team was as easy as reaching a state final in high school, a feat he accomplished three times.
"I chose Rutgers in the end because I feel they have the best coaching staff in the country," Dellefave said. "Also, I wanted to be close to home so people could come watch me wrestle."
He responded with a 3-1 record in dual meets thus far and leads a 125-pound weight class that is the Scarlet Knights' strongest in terms of depth.
Head coach Scott Goodale said he is not surprised by the impact Dellefave has had on the Knights' starting roster as they head toward the midway point of their season.
"He won the state title twice and finished second and third the other years, so having him on our roster is huge," Goodale said. "He's the type of kid we recruited because we felt that he could win right away and he has proven that."
While coaching at Jackson High School, Goodale had the opportunity to see Dellefave wrestle in his first two years of high school, but the coach said he knew that a successful wrestler was in the making far before that.
"We are actually family friends and he grew up in Toms River, which is a rival of Jackson where I coached," Goodale said. "I've been watching him wrestle since he was about 7. But it still wasn't easy to bring him over because he was getting recruited by a lot of major Division I programs. He is going to help our recruiting down the road because kids will want to come to Rutgers now that we have arguably one of the best lightweights ever to wrestle in New Jersey."
Once he arrived on the Banks, Dellefave joined a weight class that already included three wrestlers, including redshirt freshman Joseph Langel.
"We brought him in the same way as everyone else, including myself last year," Langel said. "He practiced with us over the summer and he picked up things pretty quick. He is already a high caliber wrestler, there were just a few kinks he needed to smooth over and he's been fixing them."
Having two or more quality wrestlers at one weight class raises competition in the practice room and, according to Goodale, it's a necessity to have both quality and quantity at all levels.
"One thing that I have learned in my first three years here at Rutgers is that you are going to need two good guys in each weight class," he said. "It's something that we have been hoping to work toward and at the moment we are strongest at 125-pounds."
Looking to the future, there is a possibility that Dellefave will move up to the 133-pound weight class when junior Bill Ashnault graduates, allowing both him and Langel to crack the starting lineup.
"We are thinking about moving him up, but a year at 125 was something that he needed," Goodale said. "The tentative plan is to have him redshirt next year and then bumping him up a weight class."
Dellefave is open to the idea of moving up.
"I'm one of the bigger guys at 125 so I'll probably move up in a couple of years," he said. "I'll do whatever the team needs me to do. My goal is to not only win a championship for myself, but for the team to win one too."