PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers University wrestling team held its annual awards banquet on Thursday night, April 15, at the Hale Center on the school’s Busch Campus. The team posted a10-4 record, placed fourth at the EIWA Championships – its highest finish more than 40 years – and sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, MO.
Head coach John Sacchi, the 2004 EIWA Coach of the Year, announced the program’s annual award winners following a stirring video presentation produced by senior wrestler Amir Khan (Voorhees, NJ). Khan, who created the video chronicling the Scarlet Knights’ season as part of a senior class project, debuted a five-minute glimpse of the hour-long video during the banquet.
Junior Andy Roy (Wall, NJ) was named the program’s Most Valuable Wrestler. He posted a 30-4 record during the year and was ranked among the nation’s top 10 wrestlers at 174 pounds throughout the entire season. He was one of three Scarlet Knights, joining fellow junior Rudy Medini (Colonia, NJ) and freshman Ramel Meekins (Westwood, NJ), to make the trip to the NCAA Championship. Roy placed second at the EIWA Championships for the second-consecutive season. He owned a 17-match winning streak during one stretch of the season and finished the dual portion of his schedule 14-0. Roy takes home the award for the second-consecutive year after sharing the honor with Greg Austin (Seaville, NJ) in 2002-03.
The Nist-Sachsel Memorial Trophy recognizing Rutgers’ most Improved Wrestler went to Medini. After posting a 23-16 record in 2002-03, the 184-pounder finished 20-8 this season, reaching his first NCAA Championships in 2004. He surprised many in attendance at the EIWA Championships by upsetting a pair of top-10 opponents on his way to a second-place finish in the tournament.
Austin took home the Wilfred-Cann Award, recognizing the program’s Most Inspirational Athlete. This marks the second-straight year he has won the award. Austin, a 149-pounder, entered the year needing just 27 victories to become Rutgers’ all-time winningest wrestler. He battled a knee injury at the end of last season and was forced to undergo offseason surgery. He sat out the first couple tournaments and first dual meet of this season before coming back to at the end of December to place third at the Wilkes Open in his first competition of the season. He completed his career with a 106-44 record, which ranks sixth on the school’s all-time wins list.
The 2003-04 Loyal Knight award went to senior Steve Kempinski (Phillipsburg, NJ). Despite suffering a career ending injury three seasons ago, Kempinski, didn’t cut ties with the sport. He remained with the program and served as a student coach the past two seasons. He helped the team in any way possible and assisted with different techniques during practices.