PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 6, 2012) – The Rutgers wrestling team finalized its qualifying group at five Scarlet Knights for the 2012 NCAA Championships, held inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis from Thursday, March 15 – Saturday, March 17. Mario Mason (Moorestown, N.J.) was the final Scarlet Knight to gain NCAA qualification, earning an at-large bid at 149 pounds Wednesday to join automatic qualifiers Billy Ashnault (South Plainfield, N.J.), Scott Winston (Jackson, N.J.), Greg Zannetti (Edison, N.J.) and Dan Rinaldi (Lodi, N.J.).
The five RU wrestlers, led by fifth-year head coach Scott Goodale, ties for the fourth-highest number of NCAA representatives in program history. The NCAA Division I Wrestling Selection Committee announced brackets and seeds on Wednesday, placing the five Scarlet Knights as unseeded competitors in the tournament.
At 141 pounds, senior Ashnault has compiled a 24-14 record this season. The winningest active wrestler on the RU squad with 83 career victories, Ashnault is set to finish his wrestling career with his third overall trip to the NCAA Championships and his second as a Scarlet Knight. Ashnault qualified for the 2008 tournament while at Lock Haven. In opening round action, Ashnault is matched against Northern Iowa’s Levi Wolfensperger.
Mason has wrestled to a 19-3 record in 2012, spending the majority of the year ranked within the top 10 by Amateur Wrestling News, Intermat and W.I.N. Magazine. The junior’s 2012 trip to St. Louis marks the third NCAA qualification of his career and second at Rutgers. Mason was a 2010 qualifier while wrestling for Minnesota. Mason will face the winner of Josh Wilson (Utah Valley) vs. Kyle Bradley (Missouri) to open the tournament.
Winston, RU’s 165-pounder, punched his ticket to his third national tournament after wrestling to a 19-6 record in 2011-12. The junior holds the most NCAA experience in a Scarlet Knight singlet on the current RU squad with a 3-4 record at the national tournament. Winston has the opportunity to avenge a Jan. 27 defeat to 12th-seeded P.J. Gillespie of Hofstra in the first round.
At 174 pounds, Zannetti earned the distinction of being Rutgers’ lone first-time qualifier of the five-person group. He has compiled the team-leading win total with his 30-4 record in 2011-12. Zannetti will look to go 2-0 in 2012 against West Virginia’s Lance Bryson in the initial NCAA round. Zannetti won in overtime, 5-3 (TB1), on Jan. 29.
Rinaldi rounded out the Rutgers qualifier group with his third NCAA trip, all at different weights. The 197-pounder qualified at 174 pounds in 2010 and 184 pounds in 2011. Rinaldi has a favorable rematch with Kent State’s Keith Witt to start the tournament, with Rinaldi winning against Witt by a score of 5-3 at the NWCA National Duals event held in the RAC on Feb. 11.
The opening session of the 2012 NCAA Championships begins Thursday, March 15 at 11 a.m. CT.
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2012 NCAA Championships – Rutgers First-Round Matchups
141 pounds: Billy Ashnault (RU) vs. Levi Wolfensperger (UNI)
149 pounds: Mario Mason (RU) vs. Josh Wilson (Utah Valley) OR Kyle Bradley (Missouri)
165 pounds: Scott Winston (RU) vs. No. 12 P.J. Gillespie (Hofstra)
174 pounds: Greg Zannetti (RU) vs. Lance Bryson (West Virginia)
197 pounds: Daniel Rinaldi (RU) vs. Keith Witt (Kent State)