Hometown: Monroe, N.Y.
Penn State Career
Marco redshirted his first year at Penn State (2020-2021 season) and he competed in both the Mat Town Open and the Edinboro Open the following season at 133. And this year Vespa suited up at 125 for two matches in the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open in early November.
He is also an Academic All-Big Ten recipient (2022).
Prior to Penn State
Marco spent his high school wrestling days at Monroe-Woodbury High School where he was a four-time state finalist, a three-time state medalist, and was named captain of his team twice. Vespa booked his ticket to several prestigious clubs in high school as he was a part of the 200-win club as well as the 100-pin club.
During his time at Monroe-Woodbury, Vespa earned six varsity letters and helped lead his team to a state title.
Marco has been a Penn State fan all his life, with his favorite Nittany Lion wrestler being David Taylor. Vespa ended up attending a camp at Penn State during his freshman (HS) summer and he instantly became hooked as he liked the coaches, the athletes, and the overall community.
“It’s a great decision for me. As soon as I met the team, it felt really comfortable. I also feel really comfortable with the coaches and so does my mom. That’s a really big factor. The coaches really treated me well and I’m excited to get out there and train.”
His best memory from his time during these camps and visits was that everyone had smiles on their faces, everyone wanted to be there, and they all loved what they did.
And this memory then snowballed into a dream to wrestle for Penn State in college. Vespa continued to keep his options open later in his high school career, but he always knew Penn State was going to be the school for him.
Marco’s high school coach, John Gartiser, assisted him throughout the recruiting process and he really pointed Vespa towards the Nittany Lions. And the main reason Gartiser wanted his star wrestler to go to Penn State?
It wasn’t primarily because of the wrestling.
Coach Gartiser pointed towards the people associated with the Penn State Wrestling program, who they were, and what they stood for as individuals. To him, this was infinitely more important than wins and national titles.
"“I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of talented wrestlers and Marco was definitely one of them. I coached his two brothers and always had him along while we would train and go to tournaments so wrestling became second nature.” -Coach John Gartiser"
Following his wrestling career at Penn State, Marco said he has interest in coaching wrestling or perhaps teaching. He added that wrestling has taught him values of discipline, work ethic, and positive interpersonal relationships and he wants to help pass these values onto younger generations.
Gartiser continued to add, “Marco is always a fun, polite, carefree kid. Outside of the wrestling room we would spend time fishing and playing call of duty. He’s still always willing to give back to the younger generation of our wrestling team. I’m very lucky to have him as an athlete and in my life. As much as I may have helped him, he has helped shaped me as a coach in more ways than he probably realizes.”
Do I maybe sense a career in gaming in Marco’s future? Maybe.
“One thing people don’t know about Marco is how good he is at videos games,” John explained, “As I was older and not competing anymore, I loved the attraction of grinding out and getting better in video games. I taught Marco wrestling, and he taught me call of duty! Today, we still play the game together and find it as a fun carefree way to catch up and relax while competing in Call of Duty. We are willing to accept any 2v2 search and destroy challenges from any NCAA athletes! (half joking)”.
Vespa grew up with four older brothers and they had a wrestling mat in their basement. Five boys and a wrestling mat, what could go wrong there?
Marco believed always losing to older and bigger brothers made him a better wrestler and a much harder worker. Having his dad coach, a city wrestling program also didn’t hurt since a lesson and some training were only a flight of stairs down to the basement away.
Outside of wrestling and gaming, Vespa also has his own line of merchandise through the Make Your Move platform.