Tocci commits to wrestle and serve at Air Force

 In Sports

Warwick senior wrestler Nico Tocci soared to new heights in his senior season, finishing 40-6 and taking home the 113-pound eighth-place medal at the PIAA State Triple-A Championships in March.

His high-flying days are far from done, however.

Literally and figuratively.

In late October, Tocci committed to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will continue his wrestling career and serve the country.

“It’s awesome out there,” said Tocci, who finished 68-24 overall for the Warriors. The campus is really nice and just the whole atmosphere is great to be around.”

“I was excited for him,” Warwick wrestling coach Devin Schnupp said. “It’s a really good opportunity. He’s going to get a great education and a good wrestling experience, so I was very excited for him.”

Even before the Air Force coaches emailed him toward the end of his junior year, Tocci had wanted to serve in some capacity. Initially, his thoughts were to enter an ROTC program at a college.

But when the Fighting Falcons saw him on social media competing at off-season tournaments, then sent out a correspondence, he was intrigued.

Tocci visited the campus last August, and then when his father, Pat, was making a business trip west with the National Wrestling Coaches Association, Nico accompanied him and saw more of the Air Force Academy.

“I was pretty excited,” Tocci said of being contacted by the Air Force coaches, “because he was one of the first coaches to reach out to me. I was kinda nervous, but excited about it.”

Still, the Warrior grappler did his due diligence.

Tocci also had interest from many other schools, including Lehigh, Lake Erie, Presbyterian, Ursinus, Mercyhurst, and Binghamton, and he did his homework.

In the end, Lehigh and Presbyterian were among his final three, but going to the Air Force Academy was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

“All my family lives out near Bethlehem and Allentown and I really like the (Lehigh) campus a lot and the coaches,” Tocci remarked. “But I just thought Air Force was the better fit (because of) the opportunity and my future. I was just looking past college, and even though Lehigh is a great academic school, Air Force obviously pays for your schooling and I wanted to serve, so that fit in well. And then it just set up my future.”

Although Tocci knew he wanted to wrestle at the next level, it was secondary to his academics. At the moment, he is undecided on what he plans to study and is still looking at his options.

“There are a lot of things I’m interested in, so I’ll have to figure it out when I get there,” Tocci said. “Air Force is a really good academic school, so when that came up, I was pretty happy about that.”

After graduating from Warwick in June, he will spend a year at prep school, then study for four years at the academy, and then have a minimum five-year commitment with the Air Force.

Tocci figures to either pursue being a pilot or operating a remote drone.

“Probably one of those two things,” he said.

With the Warriors, he piloted an impressive turnaround following an 8-13 sophomore season, going a combined 60-11 over the next two.

After taking home the State’s 8th-place medal in March, Tocci took a brief break, but has since returned to wrestling with LAW two or three times a week, in addition to lifting and running.

No doubt, Tocci knows the hard work ahead of him competing in the Big 12 Conference against the likes of such heavyweights as Missouri, Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa and others.

But Schnupp, citing Tocci’s attitude, sees positive things ahead for him. Schnupp would know, having competed in an elite Division-One program himself at Penn State University.

“He’s a really hard worker, he’s a stand-up guy, he doesn’t goof off,” Schnupp said. “He’s just a really hard worker, and I told him if he keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll be just fine and he’ll make a place for himself up there at Air Force and hopefully make an impact. He’s a really hard worker, so if he continues on that path, I foresee him doing well for himself.”

As he prepares to compete for Air Force, Tocci wants to improve this summer in his abilities in the top and bottom positions.

“I felt pretty good in neutral this year,” Tocci remarked. “I don’t really have a ton of shots, but the few I do have work and I think those are my strong suits. I only have a few shots, but I can get in on any of them.”

His neutral game helped Tocci soar to new heights this winter, and now he’s looking to carry that momentum with him to the Air Force Academy.

“It’s exciting,” Tocci said, “but nerve-wracking at the same time. It’s coming up soon.”


Start typing and press Enter to search