August 21, 2018 | ° F

Sophomore electrifies NJ fans in first year as starter at Rutgers

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Sophomore 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio (left) has been a fan favorite since he began wrestling at an early age, continuing throughout high school and into college. DelVecchio said the raucous New Jersey wrestling crowds motivate him to get through the grind of the wrestling season.

“Two!” the Rutgers wrestling team’s fans repeatedly scream, trying to persuade the referee to award points on a reversal.

The crowd at the College Avenue Gym keeps exclaiming until finally their calls are answered, and they rise to their feet when they realize their favorite grappler has earned the reversal and is now looking for back points.

They erupt in hysterics when their favorite Scarlet Knights wrestler collects three points on a near fall as time expires to upset No. 7/8/9/5-ranked Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State — a two-time NCAA Qualifier.

As if their volume was not enough, the grappler rose to his feet, acknowledged the crowd, pumped them up with his arms and then proceeded to fire off imaginary pistols as if he was an old west outlaw.

With his upper lip covered with a layer of thick mustache, perhaps sophomore 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio is the outlaw that Rutgers fans have been waiting for.

DelVecchio warrants the award of fan favorite undoubtedly, keeping the Rutgers faithful on the edge of their seats and always receiving the largest ovation.

And that’s exactly how the two-time New Jersey State Champion would have it.

“The wrestling season is long, it’s a grind and sometimes. You kind of question what you are doing and who you are doing it for,” DelVecchio said after upsetting DiJulius. “But then you get a crowd like this, and you realize that’s what you want. You want a big win in front of a big crowd. That’s what really gets the blood going.

DiJulius had previously only lost once in Big Ten action and now holds a 21-3 record on the season after the loss to DelVecchio, proving how big of a win it was for seeding, according to Goodale.

“He was real exciting,” Goodale said after the Ohio State dual. “That’s a huge win. I don’t know what DiJulius is ranked, but he’s beaten everybody. He’s probably a top-7,-8 kid so that’s a huge win for Scotty.”

Besides the fact that DelVecchio is one of the anchors to the dual-meet lineup — posting the third best record in dual competition at 10-4 — he still remains one of the most exciting wrestlers to wear a singlet donning a Block R.

DelVecchio is so exciting that teammates find it hard to concentrate on their own upcoming matches when the 133-pounder takes the mat.

That dynamic is not limited to long-time best friend first-year Anthony Ashnault who usually follows up DelVecchio at 141 pounds in the dual-meet lineup. Ashnault admitted that he has struggled since high school with getting too excited or invested in DelVecchio’s matches, sometimes forgetting about his own.

“It’s tough, especially watching one of your high school teammates wrestle right before you. I just try to stay calm and really focus on myself,” Ashnault said. “I have to play my own match in my head to try not to look at Scott wrestle because I start watching him, then I get into the match and then I get my emotions into the match.”

When things might not have gone DelVecchio’s way this season, there’s one thing that has remained constant: his love for competing in front of New Jersey wrestling fans.

This constant got him through the early part of the season when he lost in the wrestle-offs to redshirt Anthony Giraldo and had to earn back his spot in the wrestling room and in the unattached Clarion Open — DelVecchio won the crown at 133 pounds.

It also got him through his first-year season where he had to cut weight to start in the lineup at 125 pounds, before losing his spot for the rest of his season and being relegated to invitational grappling. DelVecchio rebounded and went on to win the National Collegiate Open in his rookie campaign.

No matter what comes DelVecchio’s way, it still amounts to his relationship with those who support him.

“Like I said, wrestling is a grind, especially here in the Big Ten. You really have to find things that get you really excited and really get you to want to work,” DelVecchio said. “I think that is just my motivation, just get that crowd behind me. I love it. I love that crowd. It’s always been all about the crowd. You just have to show up and show off. I enjoy it and I have fun, but it sucks losing in front of them, but when you win — oh it never gets old. It’s like your first win every time.”

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Tyler Karalewich

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