• This Is Rutherford

This is Zach Herninko

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credits: Sherrianne Herninko


Zach Herninko after a win

As a Junior at Rutherford High School, Zach Herninko has already learned how to excel academically and athletically. Zach has impressed his teachers, coaches, and administrators with his ability to successfully juggle the many responsibilities of a high school student. This is Rutherford interviewed Zach to learn more about him, his achievements, and his hopes for the future.


TIR: You are in the middle of a very successful wrestling season. How long have you been wrestling?

Zach Herninko: I started wrestling in Kindergarten so it has been about 12 years.

Zach after winning Freshman County Tournament

TIR: What do you enjoy about wrestling?

ZH: I really enjoy being around my teammates at practices and before matches after we weigh-in and all eat together. Those are fun times. I like learning cool new moves that I can use in matches like the cradle and slide-by. The slide-by has been my go-to move lately and I like when I am successful with it. I have also been working on my single-leg takedown, and being able to use the moves and score points in matches is definitely enjoyable.


TIR: You are currently 14-0 in the season, how much longer is the season?

ZH: The season should last another month, but it can go longer depending on how well I do in districts and regions. My goal is to make it to the state tournament in Atlantic City and that is at the beginning of March.

RHS Wrestling Coach, Mr. Jeffrey Rehain, explained, “Zach is having a great season. Thus far he's 14-0 and captured championships at the Kearny Tournament and the Belleville Tournament.”


TIR: What is your wrestling practice schedule?

ZH: We practice every day after school as a team from 3:30 to 5:30 pm and we have matches throughout the week and longer matches on the weekend. I also go to Gonzo Training in Paramus for extra training a couple of times per week from 9 to 11 pm. I also try to go at least once a week throughout the year but that is hard too because I play football and lacrosse. It’s important to stay familiar with the moves so that in the season I am ready to go. Many kids only wrestle year-round and I have to make sure I practice enough to stay competitive.


TIR: Although you play football and lacrosse and wrestle, somehow you have found time for other activities as well. Tell us more about those extracurriculars.

ZH: I am a member of the FBLA and Varsity Club. I also was in the student council the last two years.


“I currently have Zach in my Honors PreCalculus class. He is a true academic athlete. He is an all-around student that brings so much to the classroom with his desire to learn and help other students who may be struggling with a certain concept. Zach is polite and has a keen sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoy him as a student in my class,” RHS Mathematics teacher, Ms. Deborah De Lia, explained.


Mrs. Nicole Bowden, RHS English Teacher, told TIR, “Zach is an insightful student who is genuinely engaged in our class. He demonstrates a confidence and maturity in our classroom that would also be at home in a college class. It is clear that Zach really desires to learn more and challenge himself, and I feel confident that he will be successful in all of his future endeavors - both athletic and academic."


TIR: You are also an FBLA member. Recently you won 6th place in the Advertising category of the NJ FBLA Competition. How did you prepare for the competition?

ZH: I took Fundamentals of Business and I am now in Honors Accounting with Mrs. Leonard. She has helped prepare me for the competition by being a good teacher and covering a lot of topics and information that I could apply from class.


RHS Business teacher, Mrs. Judy Leonard, explained, “I had the honor of having Zach in both Fundamentals of Business and Honors Accounting. He is a very "quiet and bright young man and does all his work to perfection!" Hopefully, he chooses a career in Business or Finance because he will be very successful!”


TIR: What are you hoping to do after you graduate high school?

ZH: I definitely want to attend a 4-year college and focus on a business degree. I am not sure what area of business I would like to go into yet. Now that I did well on the Advertising test, I am thinking of at least having that as a major or minor with something else, like Finance. I would like to attend school in a southern state. I am thinking about wrestling in college, but I also want to have fun. Wrestling is such a physically demanding sport so I have to really think about what direction I want to go in.


“Zach is a quiet leader of the building. Between his academics and extracurricular activities, he is the definition of a student-athlete. Zach is a straight-A student and does the impossible job of balancing his academics, athletics, clubs, and social life. He makes me proud that he is a BULLDOG! “ Principal of RHS, Mr. Frank Morano, told TIR.


Mrs. Brenda Hernandez, RHS Forensic Science Teacher, explained, “Zach is a conscientious, hardworking student who always strives for excellence in academics. He is a pleasure to have in class and he works well with other students.”


TIR: Who have been your mentors both in and out of school?

ZH: My parents helped me learn important life skills like staying organized and on top of my work. I am usually up at 5 am on most mornings finishing up work that I didn’t get to the night before. I know my junior year is the most important for college so I am working really hard this year. All of my teachers at RHS have been great and taught me a lot. Coach Rehain and Coach Dunn make sure I continue to work hard and push myself in practices and keep us all motivated as a team. Also, my club coach Pete Gonzalez has taught me much of what has gotten me to the success I am at today. My brother JJ has also set a good example for me and he has been my wrestling partner since we were in kindergarten and first grade. He makes sure I am on time and always encourages me when I need it.

Coach Rehain, JJ Herninko, Zach Herninko, and Coach Dunn at Kearny Tournament






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