BY CHUCK O’DONNELL – http://www.northjersey.com
DJ Tirelli usually sets lofty goals for himself at the dawn of each new wrestling season.
But rather than aspiring to earn a place on the medal stand at the state tournament, the River Dell senior took a more philosophical approach this winter.
“I wanted to give it my all, everything I’ve got,” he said. “I didn’t want to hold back. I don’t care how I end up. Hopefully, I end up on the podium. Hopefully, I end up top three, top one. As long as I give my all and don’t hold back, I’ll reach my goal.”
The Record Male Athlete of the Week didn’t hold anything back at this past weekend’s District 8 tournament, storming through the 132-pound bracket in front of his home crowd. He won with pins of 12 seconds and 34 seconds in the quarters and semis. He clinched his third district title and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award by beating Pascack Hills’ Michael Worthington, 14-7, in the final.
Born David John to a father who would carve out a distinguished career as a pro mixed martial arts fighter (Head Instructor of TSMMA Elmwood Park Dave Tirelli), DJ doesn’t consider himself a natural-born wrestler. He says his 100-plus varsity victories have come as a result of working that much harder than the next guy.
It all started to come together one fateful bout during his freshman season. At districts that year, he found himself face to face with the top seed in the 113-pound bracket.
“I ended up beating some kid who was 29-1,” Tirelli said. “That was the turning point in my wrestling career.”
The wrestler who’s getting ready for the Region 2 tournament this weekend, says River Dell coach Mike Tota, is “explosive, quick and tenacious.”
And eager, too, to continue his wrestling career when he enrolls at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island in the fall. He plans on majoring in criminal justice and hopes to realize a childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
“I always liked the moral part of it, making the world a better place, making it safe,” the Oradell resident said.
Read more about how TSMMA’s Impact on DJ Tirelli’s Wrestling Success here