PHILADELPHIA – (March 9, 2014) – The Rutgers wrestling team finished in third place out of 18 teams and qualified three wrestlers for the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships in the program’s final EIWA Championships appearance Sunday at the Palestra.
Redshirt sophomore Billy Smith (Wantage, N.J.) posted the best finish on the squad, ending his day as runner-up at heavyweight. He and No. 2 Joe Stolfi (Bucknell) battled all match, as Stolfi took the lead for good with nearly a minute remaining in the third period, scoring an escape and takedown to make it 8-7. He rode Smith out for the 9-7 win, giving Smith the runner-up finish.
As a team, the Scarlet Knights tallied 91 points for third place, ending the day with six place-winners. The third-place finish was the second of the Goodale era and first since the 2010-11 season, when RU 165-pounder Scott Winston was crowned EIWA Champion. Rutgers sent nine grapplers to the podium in the 2013 EIWA Championships, hosted by the Scarlet Knights at the RAC.
Along with Smith, two other grapplers earned automatic NCAA Championship qualifying bids. An injury default gave sophomore 149-pounder Ken Theobold (Toms River, N.J.) a third-place finish at 149 pounds, and a reversal and near fall as time expired in the third period sealed an 11-7 win for redshirt sophomore Anthony Perrotti (Roseland, N.J.) in 157-pound third place match.
The three Scarlet Knights punched their ticket to the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City from March 20-22 earlier in the tournament, however, as Smith advanced to the heavyweight final with a 2-1 win against No. 4 Blake Herrin (American). Theobold cemented his spot at nationals with a 9-1 win in his consolation semifinal, while Perrotti advanced by injury default to seal his automatic NCAA bid.
The program has qualified at least two wrestlers for nationals in all seven seasons of head coach Scott Goodale’s tenure.
For those wrestlers who did not earn automatic bids – redshirt senior 133-pounder Vinnie Dellefave (Toms River, N.J.), freshman 141-pounder Tyson Dippery (Harrisburg, Pa.) and redshirt junior 165-pounder Nick Visicaro (Long Branch, N.J.) – their fate will be decided on Wednesday, March 12, when the NCAA announces the at-large qualifiers for each weight.
Theobold took it to the No. 1 seed Chris Villalonga (Cornell) in the 149-pound EIWA Championship Semifinals, but lost a hard-fought match, 3-1. After falling into consolations, Theobold notched wins in his next two bouts to finish third at 149 pounds. The EIWA place-winner is his second at Rutgers after the Toms River HS South product finished sixth last season.
Perrotti pinned his way through the 157-pound EIWA Consolation Fourth Round to move one win away from locking up an NCAA Championships at-large bid. He held a 6-1 lead over Army’s Paul Hancock before locking up the fall at the 1:19 mark.
After qualifying for the NCAA Championships courtesy of an injury default by No. 3 Joey Napoli (Lehigh), Perrotti followed up with a thrilling win over the No. 2-seeded Brian Realbuto (Cornell), scoring on a reversal and near fall as time expired to record a third-place finish. Perrotti also exacted some revenge against Realbuto, who topped him, 6-1, in dual action earlier this season (Jan. 26).
Dellefave led, 3-2, against No. 2 Mark Grey (Cornell) with less than 30 seconds remaining in the final period in his 133-pound third place match, but the Toms River East HS product got caught, turned and pinned by Grey with 18 seconds left to finish in fourth place. The place-winner is the second for Dellefave in his RU career, after he took third at the EIWA Championships last season.
Dellefave did not qualify automatically for the NCAA Championships, as one of the league’s automatic bids was withdrawn. He will only qualify if he is able to receive one of five at-large bids available at 133 pounds.
Dellefave was narrowly edged by top-seeded Mason Beckman (Lehigh), 2-1, in the 133-pound EIWA Championship Semifinals, but sealed a tight, 3-2 win against No. 7 Jeffrey Ott (Harvard) in the consolation semifinals to move into the third-place bout.
Dippery suffered a fall in his fifth-place bout against No. 2 Mike Nevinger (Cornell), finishing the 2014 EIWA Championships in sixth place and narrowly missing out on the final NCAA allocation at his weight.
Dippery won by tech fall in the EIWA Consolation Fourth Round, defeating Tyler Rauezahn (Army), 20-4, to move one win shy of advancing to Oklahoma City for the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships. But No. 9 Tyler Scotton (Boston University) did not make things easy for Dippery, sending him to the fifth-place match with a 5-4 decision. Dippery surged late, but could not score the takedown he needed to earn a spot in the third place match.
He can still qualify for nationals if he is able to receive one of four at-large bids available at 141 pounds.
Visicaro defeated Binghamton’s Vincent Grella, 8-1, with 3:32 of riding time to become RU’s sixth place-winner of the tournament, ending the EIWA Championships in seventh place.
Visicaro fell, 14-4, to Harvard’s Devon Gobbo in the EIWA Consolation Fourth Round, ending his run at a 165-pound NCAA Championships automatic qualifier. A 2013 NCAA qualifier, Visicaro can still receive an at-large bid to compete in Oklahoma City from March 20-22. The seventh-place finish is the second EIWA place-winner of Visicaro’s career, as he finished fifth at 165 pounds last season at the EIWA Championships to earn an automatic NCAA bid.
The Scarlet Knights will train for two weeks until Theobold, Perrotti, Smith and potentially more RU grapplers head to Oklahoma City, Okla., to compete in the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Wrestler – Weight Opponent Result
No. 4 Vinnie Dellefave – 133 Pounds – FOURTH PLACE (3-2)
Championship Second Round Logan Everett (Army) W-D, 5-3
Championship Quarterfinals No. 5 Angelo Amenta (Columbia) W-D, 4-3 TB2
Championship Semifinals No. 1 Mason Beckman (Lehigh) L-D, 2-1 TB2
Consolation Semifinals No. 7 Jeffrey Ott (Harvard) W-D, 3-2
Third Place Bout No. 2 Mark Grey (Cornell) L-F, 6:42
No. 6 Tyson Dippery – 141 Pounds – SIXTH PLACE (3-3)
Championship Second Round Nick Tighe (Binghamton) W-MD, 10-1
Championship Quarterfinals No. 3 Luke Vaith (Hofstra) L-TF, 15-0
Consolation Second Round Joe Locksmith (Navy) W-F, 0:20
Consolation Fourth Round Tyler Rauezahn (Army) W-TF, 20-4
Consolation Semifinals No. 9 Tyler Scotton (Boston University) L-D, 5-4
Fifth Place Bout No. 2 Mike Nevinger (Cornell) L-F, 1:15
No. 5 Ken Theobold – 149 Pounds – THIRD PLACE (3-1)*
Championship Second Round Joe Bonaldi (Binghamton) W-F, 2:52
Championship Quarterfinals No. 4 Richard Krop (Princeton) W-F, 1:50
Championship Semifinals No. 1 Chris Villalonga (Cornell) L-D, 3-1
Consolation Semifinals No. 7 Alex Johnson (Navy) W-D, 9-1
Third Place Bout No. 3 Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) W-Inj. Def.
No. 8 Anthony Perrotti – 157 Pounds – THIRD PLACE (5-1)*
Championship Second Round Ray Schlitt (Bucknell) W-MD, 11-3
Championship Quarterfinals No. 1 Nestor Taffur (Boston University) L-D, 9-5
Consolation Third Round Jahlani Callender (Hofstra) W-MD, 15-1
Consolation Fourth Round No. 5 Paul Hancock (Army) W-F, 1:19
Consolation Semifinals No. 3 Joey Napoli (Lehigh) W-Inj. Def.
Third Place Bout No. 2 Brian Realbuto (Cornell) W-D, 11-7
Nick Visicaro – 165 Pounds – SEVENTH PLACE (3-2)
Championship Second Round No. 1 Dylan Palacio (Cornell) L-D, 12-7
Consolation Second Round Johnny Vrasidas (Sacred Heart) W-F, 3:15
Consolation Third Round No. 6 Chandler Smith (Army) W-D, 4-3
Consolation Fourth Round No. 7 Devon Gobbo (Harvard) L-MD, 14-4
Seventh Place Bout Vincent Grella (Binghamton) W-D, 8-1
No. 1 Billy Smith – Heavyweight -- RUNNER-UP*
Championship First Round Ryder Cavey (Brown) W-F. 0-:54
Championship Quarterfinals No. 8 Steven Graziano (Penn) W-MD, 10-2
Championship Semifinals No. 4 Blake Herrin (American) W-D, 2-1
Championship Finals No. 2 Joe Stofli (Bucknell) L-D, 9-7
* Denotes qualied for the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., March 20-22.
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