Knights debut at No. 15 in nation
If 2010-11 is indeed going to be a year for the ages for the Rutgers wrestling team, people are already starting to take notice.
The Open Mat, a highly regarded wrestling publication, released its preseason rankings today and ranked the Scarlet Knights at No. 15 in the nation.
"They see the potential in the lineup that we have, but it's just a preseason poll," said head coach Scott Goodale. "Obviously having [redshirt sophomore] Scottie [Winston] back has something to do with it. I'm one of those coaches that thinks, ‘The higher the better.' Everyone says, ‘Oh they are just rankings,' but I think they mean a lot. It means we are doing something right."
Individually, five Knights ranked in the top 20 of their respective divisions.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Langel came in at No. 19 in the 125-pound division. Transfers Mario Mason and Alex Caruso ranked in the top 20, with Mason at No. 12 and Caruso at No. 20, respectively.
Winston, moving up from 157 pounds to 165, ranks at No. 8 in that weight class.
After coming one round from being an All-American, senior D.J. Russo heads into the season ranked No. 4 by The Open Mat in the heavyweight class.
Lehigh's Zach Rey, who defeated Russo on three occasions last season, ranks No. 1 amongst heavyweights.
"I think he's done everything he can do," said Goodale of Russo's inclusion in the top five. "He just needs that one signature win to get over the hump. I think if he gets that one win, whether it's beating Rey from Lehigh or [Ryan] Tomei from Pitt, he's got to believe it to win a national title."
The only other Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association team represented in the rankings comes from Cornell, who is ranked No. 1. The Big Red overtook the top spot from defending national champ Iowa, who fell to No. 5.
Two of the Knights' 2010-11 opponents find themselves in the Top 25 also.
Missouri comes in at No. 10 and Virginia Tech, whom Rutgers faces at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on Jan. 21, ranks at No. 12.