Sophomore uses confidence as catalyst for podium aspirations
Way back at the beginning of the season, only one person could have truly believed that sophomore Anthony Perrotti would place in the top three at 157 pounds in the EIWA Championships.
That same person might have been one of the only people to think Perrotti would qualify for the NCAA Championships towards the end of March.
It is now less than a week away from the tournament and Perrotti was the one most confident in himself.
“I feel like I can beat anyone in the country,” Perrotti said prior to Feb. 8’s match against Lehigh. “Preparation and mindset is the most important thing.”
After finishing the season 13-10, that comment might have been an afterthought entering the EIWA Championships, but Perrotti’s confidence never faltered.
Perrotti knew he would not receive an at-large selection to qualify for NCAAs after an average finish to the season.
The eight seed needed to place at least fifth for a chance to continue his season.
After finishing 2-1 on Day 1, Perrotti needed two victories to keep his postseason alive Sunday during the second day of competition.
A win by fall in his first bout, followed by an injury default, sealed his fate, giving him at least a bid to the NCAAs.
A third-place finish was on Perrotti’s mind entering his bout with Cornell’s second-seeded Brian Realbuto.
Perrotti scored a reversal and gained a near fall with three seconds remaining in the bout to avoid extra time and sudden victory, sealing his tournament fate with an 11-7 decision.
The Roseland, N.J., native rose to his feet, raised his hand and made sure to salute the hundreds of Big Red fans in attendance.
“I had an up and down season losing to all these good kids. But it’s my time now,” Perrotti said following his third-place finish. “I want to get on top and carry this momentum. Most importantly, bring back an All-American to Rutgers — that’s the goal.”
The confidence Perrotti holds is his strongest asset right now, according to head coach Scott Goodale.
“Confidence is the biggest thing. When you are wrestling at this tournament you throw out a lot of things, but it’s about being confident and believing in yourself and he does that, which makes him very dangerous,” Goodale said. “If you could have a characteristic as a wrestler right now, confidence would be it. He’s a very tough out and I wouldn’t want to wrestle him in the first round and he has a great opportunity because he believes.”
The opportunity for Perrotti to do well and become an All-American is because of his mindset, Goodale said.
Changes in his approach have made a goal that seemed unattainable come within reach.
“He has laser-beam focus right now, and for the past two weeks, that has been the difference,” Goodale said. “He realized now he needs to buy in and he has bought in. He will buy in for the next week and believe he can beat anyone.”
Assistant coach Frank Molinaro, who works with Perrotti as much as any Knight, believes Perrotti has a good shot to go far in the tournament.
Being a four-time All-American and national champion, Molinaro sees an opportunity for success in Perrotti.
“I think having confidence is the key. He wants to win right now and that’s the biggest difference,” Molinaro said. “When it comes down to it, it’s, ‘how bad do you want it? How bad do you want to be an All-American and how bad do you want to make it to nationals?’ I think he proved that at the EIWAs how bad he wants it.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.