Junior succeeds in new class

<p>Junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave captured his eighth-straight dual meet victory Saturday against Navy. Dellefave doubled his dual meet win total this season after collecting seven wins a year ago.</p>

Junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave captured his eighth-straight dual meet victory Saturday against Navy. Dellefave doubled his dual meet win total this season after collecting seven wins a year ago.

Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale said earlier this season that this year’s team is the deepest he has had in the past couple of years.

Four Scarlet Knights are currently ranked, while seniors Scott Winston and Dan Rinaldi both recently collected their 100th career victories.

Goodale expected depth from the senior class entering this season, but the emergence of junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave has allowed Goodale to claim his starting lineup is one of his most talented.

Dellefave has compiled a 14-3 dual meet record this season, doubling his win total from last year with three dual matches remaining. The Toms River, N.J., native went 7-10 last season in dual action.

His performance includes an eight-match winning streak dating back to the Knights’ Jan. 3 victory against CSU Bakersfield, when Dellefave dropped an 8-3 decision on then-No. 14 Ian Nickell.

His emergence has not been a surprise to Goodale.

“I expected it. I think he is one of the best lightweights to come out of New Jersey from a high school standpoint,” Goodale said. “He is one of the best athletes on our team.”

While wrestling is more of an individual sport, Dellefave said the depth throughout the lineup has allowed him to be more comfortable on the mat.

“I feel like last year it was more individual, and this year we have 10 guys that are wrestling for each other,” Dellefave said. “We are all putting it on the line for the team instead of just worry about ourselves.”

It also helps that the Toms River East High School product moved up a weight class from last year.

Dellefave competed at 125 pounds last season as he helped fill the void of now-senior Joey Langel as Langel dealt with injuries. The two flipped weight classes during the season as Langel competed at both 125 and 133 pounds.

Langel said he feels more comfortable at 125 pounds because the quickness he has at a lighter weight benefits his funky style of wrestling.

Dellefave’s move is more for durability purposes — he feels stronger with the added weight.

“I wasn’t really comfortable with myself at 125 pounds,” Dellefave said. “I felt like I was sick and fragile and all my time was going into cutting weight instead of just worrying about wrestling.”

While Goodale usually handles weight class decisions, Dellefave made the call to move up a weight class, a decision that has worked for both parties.

“[Goodale] asked me where I wanted to go,” Dellefave said, “and I felt like I would be better up a weight class competing with my natural weight than just cutting weight.”

With three dual matches left before the EIWA Tournament, coupled with the Knights coming off a 19-15 loss to Navy on Saturday, there is a lot of work left. But having Dellefave at the top of the lineup is one less thing for Goodale to worry about.

Dellefave said the only goal left for him is to become an All-American in March during the NCAA Tournament.

Goodale sees it as a realistic possibility.

“He’s good enough to do it,” Goodale said. “He has been consistent … and a dangerous weapon is that he believes in himself. He thinks he is going to win every time out.”

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

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