Visicaro overcomes hardship, returns to Rutgers starting lineup
All had appeared lost for fifth-year senior 165-pounder Nick Visicaro at the outset of the 2014-2015 Rutgers wrestling season.
He hadn’t won his spot at 165 pounds — a spot that he held nearly all of last season and the weight he had been a National qualifier at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Instead, it was redshirt-freshman Nick Gravina who was the guy at that middle-weight class with junior Ethan Orr appearing in some bouts as the perceived backup.
What Visicaro called kinks in the road early in the season and what head coach Scott Goodale called a personal matter that kept him out of the first part of the season is now behind the Long Branch, New Jersey, native.
“It’s been a while since I got my last dual-meet win. I had a couple kinks and I was a little slow to get started this season,” Visicaro said. “I don’t really want to be too pessimistic about anything, just the kinks are behind me. I ironed them out and I’m ready to keep moving forward.”
But currently, the season is on the rise for Visicaro, who finally earned his shot after not wrestling since the EIWA Championships a season ago.
Visicaro started his season at The Nittany Lion Open where he placed eighth after picking up three bouts.
Following what head coach Scott Goodale called a nagging injury to Gravina, Visicaro earned his chance against then-No. 6 Penn State, facing Garrett Hammond. Although he lost by a 13-4 major decision, the experience would go towards getting Visicario back into wrestling shape, Goodale said.
“It’s good to see him back in the lineup, especially since we need it,” Goodale said. “Gravina has been injured, and we need a backup. He’s a national qualifier — he’s been here before, he’s done this and he’s been through the grind. It’s good to see he’s fought through some things in his life and he’s back on the mat.”
The rise back to distinction for the two-time New Jersey State Champion, who also led Long Branch High School to three-team State Titles, is one that leaves junior 157-pounder Anthony Perrotti feeling proud of his teammate and roommate for the past two years.
“It’s obvious everyone loves everyone on this team, but I have a different type of bond with Viz — I’ve been living with him for the last two years,” Perrotti said of the 23-year old senior. “We just have a great friendship and there’s nothing better than seeing one of your best friends do well out there. Sometimes I find myself holding back, because I get too into his matches. It’s awesome seeing him compete again. As much as it sucks that Gravina is hurt, we have to throw the next guy in there.”
For now, it’s only Viz left to fill the gaps as the senior patriarch of the team. With his close cut buzzed hair, he doesn’t look like an elderly man, but that’s exactly how he feels.
“I’m 23. I’m an old man and I’m the only one now that Vinnie and Seidy graduated,” Visicaro said with a laugh. “I always liked competing and I don’t have much time left. I only have one more year — not even, I got a quarter of a year. I figured I might as well just go with it and wrestle my hardest to finish off strong.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.