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Fresh from Wrestle-Offs RU heads to Sacred Heart

<p>Fifth-year senior Lamar Brown, top, leads the Rutgers wrestling
team into its season opener Sunday at Sacred Heart. Brown returns
to the mat after redshirting last season.</p>

Fifth-year senior Lamar Brown, top, leads the Rutgers wrestling team into its season opener Sunday at Sacred Heart. Brown returns to the mat after redshirting last season.

The 2009-10 season for the Rutgers wrestling team begins Sunday when it travels to Fairfield, Conn., for a dual meet with Sacred Heart.

The Scarlet Knights may have a hard time duplicating their 20-7 record last season, but an opening match victory against the Pioneers is the type of momentum-builder needed with matches against teams such as No. 1 ranked Iowa looming.

Head coach Scott Goodale enters his third year running the RU program, and in two seasons he's compiled a 31-14 record.

"We are going to go hard this week at practice," Goodale said. "Thursday we will start to taper and get ready to finally wrestle somebody else."

Sacred Heart stands at last place in its conference, according to the Colonial Athletic Association's preseason rankings. Out of the eight schools in the CAA, the Pioneers have the least amount of representation in the individual conference rankings, with only three wrestlers cracking the top-six in their weight class.

"They have some solid wrestlers from New Jersey that I know," Goodale said. "I haven't looked too much into how they wrestle but, no matter who they have, at this level you got to show up every night."

This is the first of two meetings between the Knights and the Pioneers, the second of which comes Nov. 22 at the Sprawl Brawl in Binghamton, N.Y.

Redshirt senior Lamar Brown knows the importance of getting off on the right foot against Sacred Heart.

"I haven't lost to a Sacred Heart kid yet, but whoever I face I know I won't be able to slack on him," he said. "They have some solid wrestlers and we just got to stay comfortable."

RU enters the season tied for fifth with Penn in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, according to its annual pre-season rankings. Navy, Bucknell, Lehigh and Cornell rank in ahead of RU.

The Knights went 8-1 in EIWA competition last season with their only loss coming to Lehigh, a team that went undefeated in conference play. The two teams lock horns Feb. 6 of next year in Bethlehem, Pa.

According to the individual rankings, the Knights have a wrestler in the top-five of six of the 10 weight classes. None are ranked number one in their respective weight classes and sophomore Trevor Melde is the highest, being ranked second in the 141-pound weight class.

Monday's Wrestle-Offs were a good barometer of how the team is coming along thus far, and it showed what problems need to be fixed before the season begins, Goodale said.

"There are a lot of little things we have to get better at," he said. "We will work at cleaning these things up before Sunday."

Knight Note: Goodale will be inducted into the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame Saturday in Williamstown, N.J.

"I am humbled and honored to be inducted into such a prestigious group," Goodale said in a statement when it was announced he would be inducted in September. "It's nice to receive this type of recognition in a sport that means so much to me."


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