Returning starter Dan Hilt will lead the 125-pound class. Hilt competed in 11 of Rutgers’ 14 matches last season, posting a 6-5 record. He finished sixth in the EIWA Tournament last season and enters the 2004-2005 campaign ranked fifth in the weight class in the EIWA. He will be pushed by Ricky Ringel, who saw action in four dual meets last season, moving up a weight class to wrestle at 133 pounds to fill a void.
Red-shirt freshman Ryan Jablonski emerged as the front runner at 133 pounds. He will be closely challenged by newcomer Andrew Cardella. Although neither has seen action at the collegiate level, both come in with strong credentials. Jablonski, who benefited from a year of practice with the Scarlet Knights last season, was a Pennsylvania state qualifier as a high school senior in 2002-03. Cardella finished sixth in the New York State High School Championships last season.
Returning letterwinner Steve Adamcsik will take over the reigns at 141 this season. He replaces departing senior two-time NCAA qualifier Donnie Defilippis in the class. Adamcsik posted 12 victories, including a 2-0 dual meet record in his first season with the Scarlet Knights a year ago. He finished the year with two pins and two technical falls.
Newcomer Michael Ferrara will take over the starting spot at 149 pounds vacated by two-time NCAA qualifier Greg Austin. Ferrara, a sophomore transfer from Wilkes University where he posted a 27-7 record with 11 pins last season, will be one of six newcomers to start this season. He finished the 2003-2004 season ranked eighth in the country at the Division III level.
Redshirt junior Gene Zannetti won a three-way battle for the starting spot in the preseason and will assume the starting role at 157 pounds. He will be pushed hard by sophomore Jim Rosinski and red shirt freshman Marcello Medini. Zannetti and Rosinski both have match experience with Zannetti competing in 17 matches in 2002-2003 before red shirting last season and Rosinski wrestling in 15 matches last season, including seven dual meets.
With returning starter Chris Ressa moving up two weight classes for his final season “On the Banks” to compete at 184 pounds this winter, the starting role at 165 pounds is wide open. A pair of redshirt freshmen – Joe Sacco and Rob Kaiser – will battle it out for the starting nod. Neither has seen collegiate action, but both practiced with the Scarlet Knights last season and are ready to step up to the challenge.
Three-time NCAA qualifier and two-time EIWA runner-up Andy Roy returns for his fourth season as the leader of the 174-pound class. The senior is ranked seventh in the country and first in the EIWA in the preseason after falling one match short of All-America status at Nationals in 2003-2004. He compiled a 30-4 record last season, including a perfect 14-0 dual meet record. He enters the season tied for 22nd on the Rutgers all-time wins list with 77 career victories. Roy will be backed up by red shirt freshman Ken Stiles.
Rutgers lost its returning starter at 184 pounds but gained a returning starter from another weight class. Senior Rudy Medini, an NCAA qualifier and EIWA finalist last season, will red shirt the 2004-2005 season while recovering from injury. Replacing Medini will be no small task, but the Scarlet Knights look to experienced starter Chris Ressa, who bulked up from the 165-pound class last season. He is more than adequate to fill in for Medini, with 61 victories on his career resume. Ressa won 16 matches in 2003-2004, including seven in dual meet competition as the regular starter. He placed sixth at the EIWA Championships at 165 pounds last season. Ressa will be backed up by junior Dan Cook.
John Foscolo filled in admirably for the graduation of 2003 NCAA qualifier Ryan McGrath last season and will return as the starter at 197 pounds for the 2004-2005 campaign. Foscolo enters this season ranked sixth in the EIWA preseason poll. He finished last season with 11 victories including seven dual meet wins and took second at the Wilkes Open last season. He will be backed up by sophomore Tom Rant.
Rutgers returns sophomore Ramel Meekins, an NCAA qualifier last season, at the heavyweight position. He comes into the season ranked fourth in the EIWA and 13th nationally. Meekins won 15 matches last season, taking fourth place at the EIWA Championships. He earned a wildcard berth to Nationals where he won two matches. However, Meekins, who is also a member of the Scarlet Knights’ football team, will join the program at the conclusion of the football season, leaving the opportunity for freshman John Slevin to begin the season as the starter. Slevin enters his inaugural season with the Scarlet Knights with strong credentials after winning the New Jersey State High School Freestyle and Greco State Championship last season and placing second at the Prep Nationals in 2003.
Rutgers will once again test themselves with a challenging schedule. RU opens its season with two tournaments at the Brockport (NY) Oklahoma Gold Tournament (Nov. 13) and Navy Classic (Nov. 20). The Scarlet Knights will face a tough early-season test as second-ranked Lehigh travels to the College Avenue Gymnasium to ring in Rutgers’ 15-match dual schedule on Dec. 4. A home dual match with Maryland follows (Dec. 11) before the Wilkes Open tournament (Dec. 28-29). Several individuals will also compete at the prestigious Midlands Championships (Dec. 29-30).
Rutgers will ring in the new year with 13-consecutive dual meets including home contests with Sacred Heart (Jan. 15), Boston University (Jan. 29), Rider (Feb. 2) and Army (Feb. 24). The EIWA Championships are slated for March 4-5 in Annapolis, MD, while the NCAA Championships will return to St. Louis, MO, March 17-20.