Tom Marretta of Passaic Valley has always handled himself with class. So, when the multi star athlete made his college decision, he announced it in front of family and friends, at the annual Passaic Valley wrestling dinner, in a suit and tie.
Marretta will attend The College of New Jersey this fall, where he will wrestle for the Lions. The choice is indeed ideal for the senior, who is a top student in the classroom, with a 3.7 GPA, and the first All-County male athlete, in two sports (football and wrestling) at PV, in eight years.
Tom admitted the decision on which sport he’d participate in on the collegiate level was a tough one, but as he got closer to deciding on a school, he knew wrestling was his best option.
“I’ve been playing football all my life,” said Marretta. “And I love the sport. I enjoyed playing it in high school. But the more I participated in wrestling, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t start until my freshman year, but (Passaic Valley head coach) Joe Ben (Benvenuti) really prepared me for the next level. Those 6 a.m. weight lifting sessions and the hard work really made me love the sport.
“And then, to win a medal in my senior year really convinced me that wrestling at the next level is something I want to do.”
Marretta finished seventh in the state at 220 pounds this season and stood on the championship podium at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, on March 4.
Marretta’s discipline on the mat also resulted in his dropping about 30 pounds, after football season, so he could compete at 220 pounds. He did that for two straight years, after qualifying for the state tournament as a heavyweight in 2016.
“Tommy’s work ethic speaks for itself,” said Benvenuti. “Think about what it takes to diet properly and maintain, if not increase your strength at a very tough weight class. He never hesitated, either, to make us a better team. That’s why, to see him win his final bout, in Atlantic City, then stand on the championship podium as one of the best wrestlers in the state, is something I’ll never forget. He was an All-County football player and wrestler. People don’t realize how difficult it is to qualify for the states, in Atlantic City, much less medal.
“I’m so happy he has chosen TCNJ for college. It’s a great academic institution and to know he’ll wrestle there makes it even more special.”
In college, the upper weight classes go from 197 pounds to heavyweight.
“I’ll be wrestling heavyweight,” said Marretta, with a laugh. “I don’t think I would cut that much weight to get down to 197.”
Marretta is excited about the opportunity to learn more about the sport, in college.
“I’ve learned so much about wrestling in high school,” said Marretta. “Now I get the chance to go to a tremendous school and get even better on the mat. It will take a lot of work, both in the classroom and competing on the mat, but I can’t wait to get started. What’s so special about wrestling is that it’s both a team and individual sport. In high school, we went out to win matches. As a sophomore, I was a part of a state sectional championship team, and that was incredible. And then, I had the chance to win a medal in Atlantic City. It’s an incredible sport.”
Tom was accepted into TCNJ’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“When I first started looking at colleges, I remember my mother (Jennifer) loved TCNJ, and wanted me to go there,” said Tom. “And as I met with different schools, I realized that TCNJ would be perfect for me. It’s a beautiful campus, with a tremendous student body and great coaches.”
Remaining the class young man that has defined him for many years, Tom, the son of Jennifer and Gaetano Marretta, also thanked the other schools who had reached out to him.
“I tried to speak to all the coaches that expressed an interest in my going there, and to thank them,” said Marretta. “This is a once in a lifetime experience, and I enjoyed the entire process. When I told the other coaches that I was going to attend The College of New Jersey, they were all very happy for me. It means a lot.”
While the college choice is finalized, the hard work will continue.
“I’ll be lifting weights and getting prepared (over the summer),” said Marretta. “It goes by quickly. Before you know it, school starts in September, classes begin, then there’s captain’s practices in October, and the season starts. I’ll always have great memories of attending Passaic Valley, and I’d like to thank my teachers, coaches and teammates.”