Sophomore talks grand goals after rookie success
The two have been best friends their whole lives, and the way their friendship started revolved around the one sport the two value nearly as much as their own friendship.
Their relationship continued when the pair of grapplers went to national tournaments before they even entered high school. The duo wrestled on dual-teams, club teams and accompanied each other in all walks of wrestling leading up to high school.
Then, when the two entered high school at South Plainfield, things more closely resembled folklore than real life.
The pair combined for only 10 losses, 230 wins and six individual state championships and both went undefeated as seniors. The pair decided to join the Rutgers wrestling team and enroll at the University in the fall of 2013.
But college is a lot tougher, and for the duo of redshirt freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault and sophomore 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio, it is no exception.
Through the tough times — like Ashnault losing his first match of nearly his whole competitive career and DelVecchio losing his spot in the lineup last season — the two have been there for each other, Ashnault said.
“For him, as a wrestler and as a friend growing up, it was great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We had a good little core group. A couple of us are still here at Rutgers, along with [149-pound redshirt sophomore Tyler] Hunt and [157-pound redshirt freshman Dylan] Painton,” Ashnault said. “That just helps [DelVecchio] even more. We are here for him, and he is here for us. It just makes it an easier time because college is such a hard time and college wrestling [is] even harder.”
While Ashnault redshirted last season after a legendary high school career, DelVecchio saw match action and competed in seven of the Scarlet Knights’ dual meets, ultimately losing his spot at 125 pounds to Sean McCabe.
The season ended on a high note for DelVecchio, as he won the National Collegiate Open at 133 pounds. He also finished third in a pair of other open tournaments on the season.
And while the rest of the Knights were at the Rutgers Duals last weekend, DelVecchio was busy being crowned champion at 133 pounds at the Clarion Open.
But all the success still falls short of DelVecchio’s ultimate goal, and now all he can use last season for is to propel himself to success this season.
“That was just the mission going [to the Clarion Open] — to win. I don’t go there to lose or for mat time. It’s a go-there-to-win kind of thing,” DelVecchio said. “I just want to use last season to carry me into this season. So far, it’s led to my first open win, and hopefully, that momentum carries me throughout the entire season and I can keep building on it.”
The big stage is something DelVecchio is accustomed to, Ashnault said. Head coach Scott Goodale said the energy sophomore brings for South Plainfield sets him apart from other grapplers.
It’s something that makes him bring his best and is evidenced by the open tournaments he has won and the New Jersey State Championships he also holds. But first, he must make it to the first dual meet as the starter at 133 pounds.
If he does that, Goodale is thrilled for what may come.
“We have to make a decision who the guy there is. If he’s the guy, his role is to be an All-American and win big matches for us,” Goodale said. “He’s very exciting, and he has more fun wrestling than most — he’s really entertaining. He loves big matches — the bigger the matches, the better he is. He’s probably bored with practice [because] he just wants to wrestle in those big matches.”
And DelVecchio is ready to wrestle.
He rebounded in a big way after losing his wrestle-off by winning the Clarion Open. He has gotten better in the early part of this season and expects big things from himself.
“What are my expectations? I can only hope to be the best I can be,” DelVecchio said. “Hopefully, that’s somewhere near the top of that podium in March, if not the top. Really, I guess, it’s a high finish at Nationals, nothing short of a podium spot.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.