BELLEVILLE - Matt Fusco might be living in East Rutherford, but the Rutgers University wrestler still drops by and works out in nearby Belleville.
“I still hang out in town once in a while,” said Fusco, whose parents still live in the township.
The Belleville native also works out at Krank Systems in Nutley, which is owned by Pete Isip, who was one of his coaches while he wrestled for the Belleville Recreation team.
And he recalls when he use to wrestle at a club that no longer exists on Washington Avenue that was owned by Mike Gibbons, his former coach while he wrestled at both St. Mary’s in Rutherford and Queen of Peace in North Arlington.
Fusco is hoping that the off-season workout will help him have a big 2011-12 season at Rutgers that will end with an NCAA title.
After a disappointing 2010-11 where he was frustrated by injuries, the Belleville native is looking to be 100 percent when the new season starts this fall.
Fusco is one of a few Belleville natives who are wrestlers in college including a pair from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island in James Soprano and John Donaleski, along with Filiberto Colon, who is at Eastern Michigan University. Both Soprano and Colon are Belleville High School graduates while Donaleski attended St. Peter’s Prep.
While at St. Mary and Queen of Peace, Fusco faced Soprano twice in the state individual tournament and beat him twice. In Colon Fusco was to take him on while Colon was attending Rider University, but Colon did not make weight in that bout.
But that is the past and Fusco is looking to the future especially to be injury free when the 2011-12 college wrestling season starts this late fall for a Scarlet Knights team that finished with a 20-2 record.
Last season the 125-pound wrestler missed a month because of a concussion and even before the new school year started, he was hit with another injury, a herniated disk.
He is not expected to wrestle until October.
"My coach said that take care of it now and you will be ready for the season,” said Fusco, who has three years remaining of eligibility. "I'm hoping to be ready in October for preseason even if I have to miss a couple of matches.”
Despite the concussion last season he finished with a 17-9 record, but unfortunately lost in two matches in the Big East Conference to end his season when he was moved up to 133 pounds.
He did have several highlights during the 2010-11 season, including his first bout after coming back from the concussion.
A couple of highlights last season included finishing eighth in the Midlands Championships at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. at 125 pounds. Midlands is one of the top wrestling tournaments in the nation.
At Midlands he defeated Harvard's Steven Keith, one of the top wrestlers in the country, and had 43 wins, but lost to Oklahoma's Jarrod Patterson, who finished fifth at the Midlands Championship. He was leading Patterson until the third period when he lost in the end.
It was a little difficult for Fusco last season to wrestle at 133. "You can't get ready for this," said Fusco who only was at 133 for a short period of time. “I lost two close matches in the conference tournament (at 133). It was frustrating."
But when he is healthy he will be going back to 125 and is definitely optimistic that this will be a long season with the goal winning a national title. "My coach said that I can beat anybody at 125 in the conference," said Fusco who added his goal for next season. "I want to win it (Big East Tournament) and keep advancing (NCAA Tournament)."
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