The Rutgers University Wrestling looks to build on a successful 2002-2003 campaign that ended with a 10-6 dual meet record, sending four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships – a feat the hadn’t been accomplished in nearly 40 years. RU loses just one of its NCAA Qualifiers from a year ago (197-pounder Ryan McGrath), while gaining an NCAA qualifier in George Mason transfer Donnie Defilippis at 141 pounds. The Scarlet Knights look to further their accomplishments of last season with a roster that features five returning starters and 25 upperclassmen. This year’s schedule will once again present a challenge, one the seasoned Scarlet Knights will begin tackling Nov. 15.
The 125-pound class is up for grabs, as five grapplers will vie for the starting nod with no apparent front-runner in the group. Ricky Ringel redshirted as a freshman last season and will be competing hard for a starting spot. Dan Hilt is the lone newcomer in the group but comes in to his first season with the Scarlet Knights with high credentials, placing in the state championships three times. Freshman Ryan Jablonski, senior Dare Ajibade and sophomore Tim Grammicioni join a competitive group challenging for the starting spot.
Sophomore Marc Rosenfeld emerges as the leader at 133 pounds after notching eight wins in a limited number of matches last season. He will be challenged by a pair of newcomers in Pennsylvania State place winner Ed Labatch and New Jersey State Champion Steve Adamscik.
George Mason-transfer Donnie Defilippis heads the 141-pound class. Defilippis was a standout wrestler in two-plus seasons at GMU, earning a national ranking as high as fifth in his weight class. He is ranked eighth in the country in Amateur Wrestling News’ 2003-04 preseason poll. Freshman Jamie Lijo and sophomore Brian Hennessey, a red shirt last season, will each challenge for mat time. Junior Andrew Tilles will likely red shirt this season.
Two-time NCAA qualifier Greg Austin returns as the starter of a deep group at 149 pounds. The senior is coming off a standout 2002-03 season where he compiled a 23-8 record, placing fourth at the EIWA Championships. He enters the season ranked 14th nationally in his weight class. High school rivals last season, freshmen Marcello Medini and Kyle Poulsen will continue their competitive push for the backup role. Expect Gerard Carroll to get some mat time in this class, while last season’s backup, Gene Zannetti will red shirt.
Senior Amir Khan, an NCAA qualifier last season, will handle the starting duties at 157 pounds. In 2002-03, Kahn posted a 19-12 record and finished third at the EIWA Championships, while earning a second-round victory at the NCAA Championships. He will be pushed hard by a trio of talented challengers in Anthony Cavico, Joe Sacco and Jim Rosinski.
At 165, junior Chris Ressa will be the likely starter after recording a team-high 27 wins last season. New Jersey state finalist Robert Kaiser could see some mat time here as Evan Galipeau and newcomer Kieran Anderson remain medically questionable for the season.
Two-time NCAA qualifier and EIWA runner-up, Andy Roy returns for his third season as the leader of the 174-pound class. The junior is ranked preseason 11th nationally after a 2002-03 season in which he compiled a 21-5 record, finished second in the EIWA and advanced to the second day of the NCAA Championships. Scott Macadoo will provide an experienced backup.
The 184-pound class finds junior Rudy Medini as its returning starter. Medini posted 23 wins last season, finishing sixth at the EIWA Championships. He will receive stiff competition for the starting role from Dan Cook, who is finally healthy following limited action last season.
With the loss of NCAA qualifier Ryan McGrath last season the race for the starting role at 197 pounds is wide open. Returning lettermen John Foscolo (12 wins in 2002-03) and Craig Kempinski are the preseason frontrunners. Freshman Tom Rant may challenge for time as well.
The competition for the starting role at 285-pounds is a two-man race between seniors John Fleming and Ryan Contaldi. Fleming tallied four victories as the backup to the departed Frank Sabatino last season. Contaldi has bulked up during the offseason workouts, moving up from the 197-pound weight class. Both men will get extensive mat time during early-season tournaments.
The Scarlet Knights once again find a challenging schedule ahead of them in 2003-04, beginning with a trip to the Brockport (NY) Oklahoma Gold Tournament, before traveling to the Navy Classic. Rutgers opens its dual meet schedule with a home match against nationally-ranked Nebraska at noon on Nov. 29. On Saturday, December 6, the Scarlet Knights will travel to Lehigh for a meet with Lehigh and American. Following a three-week break for the holidays, the majority of the team will compete in the Wilkes Open, Dec. 29-30, while a select group of Scarlet Knights will travel to Evanston, IL, to compete at the Midland Championships.
Rutgers will ring in the new year with 11-consecutive dual meets including home contests with East Stroudsburg (Jan. 7), Navy (Jan. 10), a tri-meet with Franklin & Marshall and Wagner (Jan. 17), Brown (Jan. 24), Drexel (Feb. 19) and Princeton (Feb. 25). The EIWA Championships are slated for March 6-7 in Philadelphia, PA, while the NCAA Championships will take place St. Louis, MO, from March 18-20.