By AKASH ADANI, sophomore
We’ve all seen the wrestling wall of fame in the gymnasium. With just a brief skim, we see one recurring name in particular that stands out among the rest: Zannetti. The Zannetti brothers—Gene, Jeff, and Greg—were quintessential student athletes whose impacts on JP Stevens remain timeless.
The three successful JP Stevens alumni left a mark on the mat with some of the best wrestling records ever seen in New Jersey. Gene, the eldest brother, totaled 94 wins. Before graduating in 2002, he was a two-time GMC County champion, two-time district champion, two-time region champion, and third-place New Jersey state winner. Jeff Zannetti soon followed his older brother’s footsteps and ended his high school career in 2004 with 122 wins. He won the GMC County tournament, district tournament, and region tournament three times. The youngest of the Zannetti brothers, Greg, won 121 matches before graduating in 2008. As the GMC champion, district champion, and second-place state winner in 2008, Greg left JP Stevens having effectively defeated all competition in his weight class.
The brothers’ success largely resulted from a will to learn from past hardships. Gene remembers his freshman year when he had a losing record of 7-10 and his sophomore year when he did not even qualify for the regional tournament. He didn’t use these setbacks as reasons to give up, but as catalysts to work harder. Soon, he became the best wrestler in his weight class locally. Similarly, Greg did not qualify for the New Jersey tournament until he was a senior. He recalls long hours of training and sacrificing time he could have otherwise spent hanging out with his friends just to gain a competitive edge over his opponents. Crediting his success largely to his diligence, Greg says, “I always had a vision for myself and always believed I would be the best in the state and eventually in the country. I was able to be successful in wrestling by being fanatical. I practiced every day to be the best.” After three years of relentless effort, he took second place at the state level.
Wrestling didn’t stop after high school for any of the Zannetti brothers. Gene continued wrestling for Rutgers University and ultimately for the University of Pennsylvania. Jeff pursued Division I wrestling like his brother at the University of Pennsylvania, and Greg wrestled at Rutgers University.
Together, the brothers created Z-Fanatical Fitness, a program that allows athletes to reach their maximum potential, both physically and mentally. Gene remarks, “Success always begins with faith. You have to first believe that you are capable of great things before they happen. I wasn’t always the most talented on the mat or in the classroom, but I never abandoned faith and was always willing to work like an animal to achieve anything that I set my mind to.”
The Zannetti brothers differ from most other athletes because of their unabating effort. In the face of adversity and losses, they worked even harder. JP Stevens created a strong foundation of positivity that would last not only through their wrestling careers, but also in their lifelong endeavors. Jeff attributes JP Stevens as one of the elements in his winning formula and states, “The coaches and teachers I had really pushed me to achieve at a high level. They didn’t take it easy on me to say the least. Mr. McMullen was my physics teacher and wrestling coach. Bottom line, I was pushed in the classroom and wrestling mat.”
As role models for many students at JP Stevens, the Zannetti brothers embody all the qualities that the school hopes students develop before graduating. To seniors, Gene Zannetti advises, “A serious goal keeps you focused and helps you overcome the world’s C.R.A.P. (Criticism, Rejection, Arrogant people, and Pressure). Self-satisfaction in achieving a goal feels a lot better than partying, people pleasing, or temporary fun.”
Now, it is our turn to wrestle obstacles and carry on the JP Stevens legacy.