Hundredth victory shows team’s rise
On a bench outside of the Rutgers wrestling team’s practice gym Tuesday, Scott Winston sat patiently as the rest of his teammates joked around before practice.
The senior 157-pounder was thinking of an honest answer to how he felt about his 100th he earned Friday at West Virginia.
While 100 wins at the college level might be a goal for some, Winston has greater aspirations.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Winston said. “I’m proud of it, but it is what it is. If I make All-American status that would be a lot more.”
Winston is one of two seniors to reach the landmark, as 184-pounder Dan Rinaldi delivered an 18-5 major decision Jan. 20 against Harvard’s Josh Popple for No. 100.
Rinaldi and Winston were only the 12th and 13th grapplers to accomplish the feat, respectively, in Rutgers history, but senior 174-pounder Greg Zannetti said it is not obvious they joined the elite club by all the work they still put in.
“It’s their hard work nonstop and just their ability to keep going after it,” Zannetti said of their work ethic. “They are two of the best wrestlers in the country, but you wouldn’t know it by their attitudes.”
Both Rinaldi and Winston have bigger plans, as both look to finish with All-American acclaim at the end of the season.
Winston lost last season in the NCAA Tournament wrestling at 165 pounds, while Rinaldi did so competing at 197 pounds.
Head coach Scott Goodale understands why both want more than only one milestone this season.
“Both guys are the same way,” Goodale said. “It is kind of what we have been preaching here since they walked on campus, and that was getting themselves on the podium. I’m glad they’re thinking that way. One hundred wins is a nice milestone, but there are bigger things.”
The way Rinaldi and Winston treat those victories is also a reflection of Goodale’s modesty, as he brought the program to new heights since taking over in 2007.
Goodale has accumulated an 84-28-1 record as head coach, which included a banner 2010-2011 season, when the program captured 21 victories. Rutgers climbed to No. 8 in the polls that season and defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Goodale, much like his veteran wrestles, diverts credit to others.
“It’s about the guys and the work they put it, it’s not so much about me,” he said. “It’s our staff and what these guys put in in the offseason, and it’s a hard thing to do to wrestle five college seasons. There is a lot more that goes into it than a lot of people think from an injury and training standpoint.”
That training will continue for both Rinaldi and Winston, but the excitement from their 100th victory remains only as an afterthought, much like the rest of the program’s recent success.
There are other goals to meet.
“I really didn’t even think about it until the beginning of the year and didn’t think about it again until last week, when coach [Goodale] said I was pretty close,” Winston said. “It’s kind of over with, and I’m focused on the what I can fix and what I can get better at.”
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