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RU topples in-state rivals, holds perfect dual record

There were only two uncertainties at the College Avenue Gym on Saturday night before the Rutgers wrestling team’s 25-5 win against Rider and 30-6 victory against Princeton: senior 144-pounder Mario Mason’s status and how junior 197-pounder Dan Seidenberg would respond following an injury.

While Mason sat out, Seidenberg answered head coach Scott Goodale’s call for production for the Scarlet Knights (6-0) in convincing fashion.

After Rider’s Donald McNeil evened the score at 2-2 on a reversal, the momentum shifted against Seidenberg, who seemed poised to lose control of the match.

But Seidenberg responded with an escape later in the third period and closed out the match with a takedown to the approval of Rutgers fans in attendance.

The most excited person in the gym might have been Goodale, who pumped his fist with pleasure at how Seidenberg finished his 5-2 decision.

“He’s still kind of banged up, and he fought through it,” Goodale said. “For him, that is kind of something he needed mentally to get over the hump. He just gutted out the win.”

Seidenberg also recorded a 6-0 decision against Princeton’s Dan Santoro, making him one of five Knights to finish the night with two more wins to their records.

“Those are weights we look at coming into the season to be productive,” Goodale said. “We don’t need him just to come in and fill a void — we need him to come in and win matches. It’s important. As long as he is wrestling well, that’s a big plus for us.”

While Goodale said it was important for Rutgers to win decisively against both in-state schools, junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave was pretty clear as to how he viewed both opponents.

“For Rider and Princeton, it’s just like another dual meet for us,” he said Friday during practice. “We really don’t get too hyped up for it because we are in the same state.”

But Dellefave left finding motivation after he dropped a 2-0 decision against Rider’s Jimmy Morris.

Like Seidenberg, Dellefave responded, pinning Princeton’s Andrew Hirai after leading the match, 9-3, in the second period.

“It’s a long year, so you can’t dwell,” Goodale said. “Vinny did a good job [Saturday]. He had a tough loss and then came back with a pin. That’s what we preach and that’s something he did a good job with.”

The fall capped an impressive run for the Knights, who scored 24 straight points against the Tigers to put the match out of reach.

Senior 174-pounder Greg Zannetti began that run when he registered an 8-0 major decision against Princeton’s Ryan Callahan. The match win included two takedowns.

Zannetti won by a 3-1 decision in his match against Rider’s Ryan Callahan after struggling early to secure points.

“I came out a little sluggish,” Zannetti said. “But I felt better in my second match. I didn’t like the way I wrestled in that first match, but I just have to put that behind me.”

Rutgers’ next match unfolds on a bigger stage when the Knights compete against Nebraska and Tennessee-Chattanooga at Madison Square Garden in the “Grapple for the Garden”.

The message now is to try to take something out of both convincing wins.

“Everyone just needs to focus on what they need to do individually to get better,” Zannetti said. “We try not to focus on the past we just want to continue to get better.”

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.

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