PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 3, 2014) – After entering the season with one of the youngest rosters since head coach Scott Goodale took over the program in 2007-08, the Rutgers wrestling team rattled off an 11-5 dual season, finished third in its final EIWA Championships and earned its first All-American since 2002 in redshirt sophomore Anthony Perrotti (Roseland, N.J.).
Eight of the Scarlet Knights’ 10 starters to open the dual season were either freshmen or sophomores, culminating in three under classmen – sophomore Ken Theobold (Toms River, N.J.), redshirt sophomore Billy Smith (Wantage, N.J.) and Perrotti – earning automatic bids to the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City.
RU (11-5, 7-2 EIWA) enters its inaugural season in the Big Ten with 13 grapplers returning that earned dual starts in 2013-14, including a handful of highly anticipated redshirts and transfers expected to make key impacts next season.
A 22-21win by criterion 3.15.2 in their opening dual at Hofstra (Nov. 3) was one of many thrilling dual finishes for the Scarlet Knights in 2013-14. Rutgers entered that bout ahead, 21-14, with two bouts remaining in the match following a Smith pin.
The Pride won the next two bouts by decision and major decision, respectively, to tie the dual at 21 with no bouts remaining. However, RU earned the tiebreaker point courtesy of its two falls in the match, giving the team a win in its season-opener for the sixth-straight season.
The Scarlet Knights also won their second match of the season by a single point, 16-15, over Boston University (Nov. 17) at the College Ave. Gym, using a 7-0 decision by redshirt freshman Phil Bakuckas (Hammonton, N.J.) to secure the come-from-behind victory. RU won its first two duals of the season by a single point for the first time in the program’s 81-year history. The consecutive one-point victories were the tightest back-to-back matches since RU defeated American (Feb. 7, 2009) and Navy (Feb. 13, 2009), 19-17 and 18-17, respectively.
After getting off to a 3-1 start, the program earned some bragging rights entering its inaugural Big Ten campaign, defeating Michigan State, 20-18, at the Asics/Journeymen Northeast Duals (Nov. 30) in Troy, N.Y. The win gave RU its first win over a Big Ten opponent since beating Purdue, 28-15, on Nov. 26, 2011.
The team continued its conference slate and got off to a 6-0 start, defeating in-state foe Princeton (Dec. 14), 27-9 to open its final EIWA dual schedule. RU followed that up with an 18-15 comeback win against Columbia (Jan. 3), using a Smith fall in the final bout to seal it at the College Ave. Gym. The squad then topped Harvard (Jan. 5), 24-15, at home before dismantling American, 31-6 (Jan. 10). With its win over American on Jan. 10, RU began the season 6-0 in EIWA action for the third time in four seasons.
After a difficult road stretch that featured duals at No. 17 Iowa State, No. 3 Cornell and No. 23 Lehigh, the Scarlet Knights returned to their winning ways, again in comeback fashion. Perrotti took a 7-1 decision over Lock Haven’s Elias Biddle in the final bout to secure an 18-16 victory in the last “Barn” dual of the year (Feb. 15). From there, Rutgers exploded to win eight of 10 bouts against Drexel for a 33-6 win on “Senior Night” at the RAC (Feb. 21).
110th Annual EIWA Championships
Rutgers had six grapplers place and three earn automatic NCAA qualifying bids at the 2014 EIWA Championships in Philadelphia, Pa., from March 7-9 at the Palestra. Smith recorded the best finish, ending the tournament as runner-up after a tight, 9-7 loss, He posted a 3-1 mark at the tournament.
Perrotti, who went 5-1, closed his tournament with a thrilling, 11-7 win over Cornell’s Brian Realbuto to take third place at 157 pounds. Theobold, who posted a 4-1 mark, also took third place at 149 pounds to punch his ticket to NCAAs. Redshirt senior 133-pounder Vinnie Dellefave (Toms River, N.J.) took fourth to finish just outside the automatic qualifying range for his weight. Dellefave ended his EIWA Championships with a 3-2 mark, but the Toms River East HS product eventually earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.
The six place-winners gave the Scarlet Knights 91 points and a third-place finish at the championships, the second third-place finish in four seasons.
2014 NCAA Championships
Perrotti achieved All-America status at the 2014 NCAA Championships to become the first Scarlet Knight to reach the NCAA Championships podium since 2002. As a team, RU finished the tournament 34th with 11.5 team points.
Rutgers’ finish was the second-highest finish in Goodale’s tenure, as the team finished 32nd in 2010-11 and in 2009-10. However, RU’s 11.5 points came with just four wrestlers in the field. The squad had seven NCAA qualifiers in 2009-10 and a school record eight in 2010-11.
Perrotti entered the weekend with a 1-5 record against ranked opponents in 2013-14. After losing to No. 11/14/13 (AWN/InterMat/W.I.N.) Blaise Butler (Virginia) by a 7-6 margin to start the tournament, Perrotti defeated three ranked foes in a row including No. 9/9/9 Roger Pena (Oregon State), No. 14/NR/17 Zach Brunson (Illinois) and No. 8/8/7 Nestor Taffur (Boston University) to secure All-America status.
The Roseland, N.J., product also made NCAA Championships history, recording a10-second pin against No. 8 Roger Pena (Oregon State) en route to the All-American podium. The fall was the second fastest in NCAA Wrestling Championships history by collegiate rules. Clarence Richardson (LSU) holds the record, as he pinned Scot Mansur (Portland State) in nine seconds at 177 pounds in 1983.
The following grapplers returning next season all earned at least one dual start in 2013-14: freshman 125/133-pounder Scott DelVecchio (South Plainfield, N.J.), redshirt freshman 125-pounder Sean McCabe (Connetquot, N.Y.), freshman 133/141 pounder Corey Stasenko (South Plainfield, N.J.), freshman 141-pounder Tyson Dippery (Harrisburg, Pa.), Theobold (149 pounds), Perrotti (157 pounds), junior 165-pounder Nick Visciaro (Long Branch, N.J.), Bakuckas (174 Pounds), freshman 184-pounder Anthony Messner (Somerset, N.J.), sophomore184-pounder Ethan Orr (Branchville, N.J.), sophomore 197-pounder Hayden Hrymack (Lincroft, N.J.), sophomore 197-pounder Padric Lynch (Haddon Heights, N.J.) and Smith (HWT).
Of the freshmen returning who earned dual starts this season, two – Dippery and DelVecchio – were crowned open champions. DelVecchio took the National Collegiate Open title at 133 pounds with a 3-0 mark (March 2), while Dippery won the 47th Annual East Stroudsburg open with a 5-0 day, outscoring the opposition, 47-2 (Nov. 17).
Three freshmen redshirts set to make their collegiate debuts in 2014-15 were also crowned open championships this season. Freshman 125-pounder Josh Patrick (Ligonier Valley, Pa.) won the Messiah Open on Feb. 8, freshman 184-pounder Taylor Jackson (Lady Lake, Fla.) went 5-0 to win the 81st Annual Wilkes University Open on Dec. 28 and freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault (South Plainfield, N.J.) went 5-0 to earn the National Collegiate Open title on March 2.
Other grapplers coming off their redshirt seasons in 2014-15 are freshman 197-pounder Garrett Conner (Kettering, Ohio), freshman 165-pounder Nicholas Gravina (Allendale, N.J.), freshman 141-pounder Gregory McCrystal (Edison, N.J.), redshirt freshman 157-pounder Dylan Painton (South Plainfield, N.J), redshirt sophomore 157/165 pounder Mikey Simmons (Middletown, Pa.) and redshirt freshman 149-pounder Michael Underwood (Cary, Ill.)
Along with Orr, RU made three midseason additions to the squad, announced in late January. Sophomore 141-pounder Tyler Hunt (South Plainfield, N.J.) and two-time NCAA qualifier Andrew Campolottano (Bound Brook, N.J.) also joined the program after transferring from NC State and wrestling at Ohio State, respectively.
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