Melde has national potential at 141 lbs.
Trevor Melde's first year on the Rutgers wrestling team was meant to be a no-pressure situation.
Fresh off of back-to-back NJSIAA championship appearances and a 138-10 career record at DePaul Catholic High School, the idea was for the one-time state champ to stay back and learn the ropes of NCAA wrestling before going hard for the next four years.
But anything other than competing is not in Melde's vocabulary, and it was not far into his redshirt season that the coaches decided to let him loose on Division I opponents.
So much for the absence of pressure. It was time to see if the top-20 recruit from Hewitt, N.J., was ready to contribute.
"While [Melde] was redshirting he impressed us in tournaments and we knew that we had to take him out," said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. "National championships are always the goal, but we also wanted to have a strong dual meet season, and for that to be possible, Trevor needed to be in the lineup."
The result — a 22-7 individual record — helped the Scarlet Knights build the impressive dual meet record they wanted. It also proved that Melde has national potential in a sport he embraced since the time he first hit the mat, over a decade ago.
"I picked wrestling as something that I wanted to try back in second grade," Melde said. "The more that I kept at it, the more I was committed to getting better."
He was an integral part of the RU roster since he arrived as a part of last year's recruitment class, the nation's third best class last season. Along with Melde came wrestlers such as high school state champion Jesse Boyden and Freshman All-American Scott Winston, who is redshirting this season.
Now a sophomore, Melde finds himself ranked second in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association at the 141-pound weight class behind Seth Ciasulli of Lehigh. With quality wins this year, he can put himself in a legitimate position to reach the national rankings.
But rankings mean nothing compared to championships.
"In my mind the rankings hold some weight but not too much at all," Melde said. "They don't mean much because in the end you still have to wrestle. Right now I just want to concentrate more on wrestling. Last year I found success just taking it one match at a time, but I fell short of my goal of attaining a national championship."
Melde, like the rest of his teammates, found success in his first match of the season against Sacred Heart, winning a 6-3 decision over his opponent, redshirt senior Cory Dunn.
The two are slated to face off again Nov. 22 at the Sprawl Brawl in Binghamton, N.Y.
"The win was a good way for me to start off the season, especially against a tough opponent," Melde said. "The next time I face him I will know exactly what I need to do to score more points for my team."
Heading into his second season, Melde pushed himself to improve all facets of his game, but more specifically putting points on the board.
"To say Melde has been working hard isn't a true testament to the time he has put in," Goodale said. "He has taken part in a lot more one-on-one training sessions and is getting better at protecting his legs. He won a lot of matches for us last year, but when he lost it was often because he found himself on his back. Now he better understands how to keep himself in matches when those scenarios arise."