By Matt Jenkins
---- — Jared Costa only learned about Anderson University recently, but it didn’t take the South Carolina college long to get a hold on the St. John’s Prep senior wrestler.
Costa made a verbal commitment to Anderson after receiving a partial academic/athletic scholarship offer.
Anderson University, a Division 2 school, currently has three wrestlers from New England on the roster — two from Vermont and one from Franklin, Mass. Evidently, Spartans head coach Dock Kelly likes to recruit in the Northeast and a former Massachusetts high school wrestling coach helped Costa make contact.
Costa visited the school in August and needed only two weeks to decide that Anderson was the best fit.
“I kind of wanted to go away but also wanted to stay close,” the 17-year-old Costa said. “It was more about being a fit for the college than it was about how far away it is. The coach is nice and made me feel like I was home.”
Costa is a talented wrestler who also does the work in the classroom. Wrestling at 138 pounds last year, Costa helped St. John’s win the Division 1 dual meet title. He battled through some injuries late in the season. As a sophomore, he took sixth in states at 126 pounds. He also holds a 3.54 grade point average.
All of those things helped him get what roughly amounts to a 65 percent scholarship, with the opportunity to earn more.
“Dock Kelly called and wanted us to see the school. The campus is pretty similar to the Prep. It’s a Catholic school and I felt like I was at high school in a college setting,” Costa said. “Wrestling is Division 2 and they got a national qualifier last year from Mount Anthony in Vermont. It’s an up and coming program.”
Anderson had everything that Costa wanted: a good Business Management program, an improving wrestling team, and a tight-knit, small campus community.
“I thought we got the red carpet treatment when we were there,” Manny Costa, Jared’s father and the St. John’s Prep wrestling coach, said. “We had our own private tour with the point guard of the basketball team taking us around. I thought the campus was beautiful and the coach met with us for an hour and you could tell he wanted Jared to come there. All the teachers we met, you could tell they catered to educating the students. Every person we passed knew (our tour guide’s) name; that’s what I like about it being a small school.”
Kelly sold the Costa’s on the school and his program, and they also liked the emphasis he put on education.
This spring, Kelly’s team took ninth place in the Division 2 Academic National Championship by recording one of the highest team grade point averages. The Spartans carried a 3.167 GPA last year.
Kelly is also an inspirational story. He was born with one foot and one hand that were only partially developed, later having his leg amputated below the knee. After two years of high school wrestling, Kelly went on to wrestle in college, eventually at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Jared and Manny Costa didn’t even learn about Kelly’s story until they looked him up after their meeting.
“I noticed he had a limp and looked it up afterwards,” Jared Costa said. “It’s one of the bigger points why I chose Anderson. He’s been through so much adversity and he’s been there and done it.”
Making an early decision is also something that Manny Costa feels will be beneficial to Jared, who is currently busy playing soccer for the Eagles.
“That’s what I wanted. We visited some schools in July and August and was hoping before soccer season he’d have it wrapped up,” Manny Costa said. “You can’t visit schools during soccer or wrestling, so then you’re into March, April or May to make a decision. I didn’t want him concerened.”
Jared Costa is now free to focus on his senior year goals, both academic and athletic. In wrestling, he hopes to become an individual state champion and help the Eagles repeat as dual meet champions. He’s also looking forward to one final season wrestling for his father.
“My dad has probably been the biggest influence on my life. Growing up, I wanted to wrestle for him and once I got there he was probably the biggest contributor for my success,” Jared said. “Academics came first, grades before sports. Everything from wrestling, practicing and weight lifting, it’s on him, I definitely owe it to him.”