Always driven by family loyalty and succeeding academically, Passaic Valley’s High Tom Marretta has also established himself as one of the school’s most versatile and complete student-athletes.
Marretta, a senior, joined elite company in PV’s proud wrestling heritage, by earning a medal at the NJSIAA championships last weekend, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City. He finished seventh in the state, at 220 pounds, and won his final bout, to culminate a 38-7 season. For his career, Marretta won 85 varsity matches.
All in all, not bad for a young man who didn’t even begin wrestling until his freshman year.
“I never really liked wrestling,” said Marretta with a laugh. “I tried it when I was little, and told my parents I didn’t like it, and that was it. I always liked football. I’ve been playing since flag football. But when I got to high school. J-Ben (Passaic Valley High wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti) asked me to come out. As a freshman, I was on JV and won the 220 pound county title in the JV tournament, which was nice.”
Tom Marretta (center) joined by PV wrestling coaches (l to r), Brian Kapral, Mike Benvenuti, head coach Joe Benvenuti and Joe Wassel after his final bout at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City. (Click on photo for larger image)
Marretta continued to excel on the gridiron for the Hornets, and his wrestling prowess also took hold. As a sophomore, he was on the varsity, where he hoped to compete at heavyweight, but Yousef Karmi defeated him in the wrestle off for the starting position. An injury to Karmi later in the 2015-2016 season gave Marretta a chance to wrestle, and he took advantage, finishing third at Region 4 and earning a berth in the state tournament, at heavyweight.
With Karmi back last season, Marretta opted to wrestle at 220 pounds, meaning he had to lose about 35 to 40 pounds after football season and before certifying for wrestling.
“It was a lot of discipline, when it came to dieting,” recalled Marretta, who did the same thing again this season, following football. “But I was able to do it. I think this year, I prepared better for the transition to 220. Last year, I did it, but I wore out a little. This year, I maintained the lighter weight, but also ate well.”
Benvenuti was very impressed.
“Tommy has truly sacrificed for the betterment of his team the last two seasons, going down in weight to 220 pounds,” said Benvenuti. “He plays football at 255 lbs each fall. Being able to lose 35 lbs in a few weeks shows his dedication and desire. Tom is the total package. Great student, great athlete, a leader and someone our community can be proud of.”
The son of Jennifer and Gaetano Marretta, Tom is an outstanding student.
“I take that very seriously,” Tom said of his grades in school. “I know how important it is. My parents always said school comes first, then athletics.”
Marretta holds a GPA of 3.7 and has scored very high on his SAT’s.
“I think that will help when it comes deciding a college,” said Marretta, who hopes to play football, or wrestle, on the collegiate level. He hasn’t made a final choice for school, yet, but plans to focus on it now that wrestling is concluded. “I might actually wrestle in college, and I never thought that would be possible four years ago. We’ll see. I know I can take pride in telling (prospective) college coaches about my academics.”
Marretta’s diligence is a credit to family values, according to Benvenuti.
“Tom has a tremendous support system at home. This sport is so grueling, and the help from parents is vital. Parental support is necessary when a wrestler needs special meals, and many loads of laundry from sweating off some weight. Honestly, the best support that parents give to a wrestler is emotional support. We were able to see this with Tom and his parents, first hand, this weekend and throughout his career as they never missed a match. Seeing Tom’s family celebrate this weekend with smiles, tears and plenty of hugs and kisses were proof of what kind of support system he has at home.”
Tom has worked hard since the summer, having served as a team captain for football and wrestling. An All-Passaic County athlete in both sports, he hopes to relax a little for a week, or so.
“I’ll get back in the weight room, and start running soon,” said Marretta. “Right now, I’m a little sore, and it’s a good time to give my body a rest.”
Benvenuti has no doubt Marretta will be a success in whatever he pursues.
“Tom’s maturity, his leadership and work ethic, both in sports and more importantly with school, will certainly set him up for continued success,” said Benvenuti.
The admiration is mutual.
“Coach Benvenuti has taught me so much,” said Marretta. “Everything I know about wrestling, came from J-Ben. To be on that podium, in Atlantic City last Sunday is one of the best experiences of my life. It was almost surreal being out there, with some great wrestlers on that podium.
“It was really special to go out with a win in my last match. I’ll never forget this.”