Midseason additions solidify RU’s Big Ten future
With three matches remaining in the regular season, the Rutgers wrestling team has already found another way to prepare for the high-caliber competition they will face when they make the switch to the Big Ten conference.
Three more Scarlet Knights have enrolled as mid-season additions.
Sophomores Tyler Hunt and Ethan Orr transferred to Rutgers after successful rookie seasons, wrestling at 141 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively. Both grapplers will be able to compete immediately for the Knights, as they will focus primarily on open tournaments.
But perhaps the most highly billed acquisition comes from junior Andrew Campolattano, who will be eligible to wrestle for Rutgers next season.
The 197-pounder enrolled at the University after leaving Ohio State last spring. Campolattano joins redshirt freshman Anthony Ashnault as the second four-time N.J. State Champion to become a Knight.
While still a Buckeye, Campolattano had a warrant issued in Ohio on felony drug trafficking charges, which were later dropped, according to NJ.com.
After taking a leave of absence from Ohio State and deciding to attend school closer to home, the Bound Brook, N.J., native has prioritized what matters most to him.
“When January comes around next year I’ll be full-throttle, ready to go because I’m hungry,” Campolattano told NJ.com. “When you hit rock bottom you realize what’s important to you. You realize how much you really want something.”
Campolattano was recruited as a two-sport athlete out of high school, even committing to play linebacker under then-head football coach Greg Schiano, before changing his sport and school altogether in 2011, choosing to wrestle for Ohio State.
At Ohio State, Campolattano compiled a 40-26 record, including two seasons as a NCAA National Qualifier, but never quite lived up to his success at the high school level. He holds the NJ state record with 175 wins and 116 pins.
The former Buckeye received a vote of confidence from head coach Scott Goodale, who thinks a spot on the podium is more than likely for Capolattano.
“Andrew has the ability to win a national title. If he finds that passion he will be hard to beat,” Goodale said in a statement. “He comes with Big Ten experience and we are excited to have him.”
Along with Big Ten experience, Rutgers receives two competitive transfers in Hunt and Orr, who can help immediately prepare the team for postseason play.
“[I expect] to help the team the best way I can and go in the room every day with a strong head,” Orr said. “[I want to help] Phil Bakuckas become a better wrestler because I am going to stay up at 174.”
Orr transferred from Labette Community College (Kan.), where he won the individual title at 165 pounds and helped lead the team to the NJCAA championship with a 32-5 record at 165 pounds.
Hunt also comes off a successful stint with N.C. State, where he finished with a 21-10 record at 141 pounds. He had a team-best 9-2 record in dual-competition for the Wolf Pack.
Hunt spoke highly of his teammates and is looking forward to getting back to grappling.
“For the rest of the season, I have to win these open tournaments,” Hunt said. “We already have a few national qualifiers, and a few that can definitely [become National Qualifiers].”
Although these additions will have some catching up to do, they have realistic goals set in order to improve the quality of wrestling put forth by Rutgers.
“I was trying to get down to 165 pounds, because they offered me a wrestle-off at 165. I couldn’t maintain the weight so I’m staying up at 174 [pounds],” Orr said. “I didn’t want to wrestle-off Phil [Bakuckas] because it’s late in the season, and he’s doing well. I just want to do really well in school right now and go into the room with 100-percent effort and make sure everyone is training as hard as possible.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.