In his senior year at Summit High School, A.J. Iarussi placed sixth at the state wrestling tournament in Atlantic City this past weekend after winning three matches in the 220-pound weight class.
Iarussi wasn’t always interested in wrestling; he’s a football player who in eighth grade had a wrestling coach suggest he join the team. Originally Iarussi did not want to wrestle, but his dad suggested wrestling might make him a better overall athlete. Iarussi said he decided to join and once he did, he ended up liking and enjoying it.
During the 2012-2013 wrestling season, Iarussi was a two-time district champion and a Region 3 Champion. He placed twice at the Rahway Holiday Tournament; he also placed second at the Union County Tournament and was then named the County Champion.
From the start of the season Iarussi’s goal was to win as many matches as possible, adding that a big thing for him was to take Counties this year.
“I hate losing, I just try to win as many matches as I can,” he said. “I really like to try to dominate my matches and be on the offensive the whole time.”
Making it to the state tournament, however, was something Iarussi was confident he could attain. Last year, Iarussi made it to the states but only competed in one match, he wanted to take it further this time around, he said.
“Of course you don’t want to be arrogant, you don’t want to take anything for granted,” Iarussi said of States. “So we have the mentality at Summit Wrestling that we like to take things one match at a time, not really look too far ahead at things that way we can focus on each win.”
And win he did.
Iarussi won three matches at the state tournament gaining him the 6th place medal overall.
“He wrestled really great that weekend, he ended up placing sixth, which is fantastic when you think about everyone in the state,” Head Coach of Summit Wrestling Anthony Ferrante said in a video interview with Patch.
Iarussi said it has been a privilege to work with Coach Ferrante and Coach Liberato.
“I can’t speak highly enough about them,” he stated.
He added that both coaches have been great mentors to him, both and off the mat.
“A ton of my success has been from them mentoring me,” Iarussi expressed. “A lot of things about wrestling teach you goals and values in other aspects of life not just completely in the sport itself.“
Another huge supporter of Iarussi is his father, who he said is always in his corner. He added that getting a pat on the back from his dad is a big moment for him.
“I always try to get him proud of me and he always is,” Iarussi said.
After graduation, Iarussi will leave wrestling behind and play running back for University of Pennslyvania Football. While there, he plans to study Business at The Wharton School.
“It’s always bittersweet, it’s weird thinking I won’t ever really be wrestling again,” he said. “I know that I can still have fun here and there. I’m going to be checking in with the guys and helping out as much as I can whenever the coaches need me to come down from college.”
Iarussi said he is really proud of his accomplishments, especially knowing that he achieved sixth place when wrestling isn’t his main sport and the other guys at states are dedicated to wrestling all year long.
Since the wrestling team is just starting out, Iarussi said he is really proud of the program and also of his teammates.
“They really helped support me they were with me every step of the way cheering me on,” he said. “I can’t wait to come back in a couple of years and see the next generation of guys doing it themselves too.”
Other notable accomplishments by A.J. Iarussi in the 2012-2013 Wrestling Season: 2nd Place District 10, Two time District Champion, 2nd Place Region 3, Region 3 Champion, Two time state qualifier. Season Record 45-3, Career record 114-20.