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For the last time this season, the Rutgers wrestling team
competes within the confines of the College Avenue Gym. And for
seniors Lamar Brown, Jack Barrett, Kellen Bradley and Matt
Rigoglioso, when the final horn echoes throughout the Barn, their
home meet careers will come to a close.
Sophomore Scott Winston, top, has a 11-3 record in his redshirt
year while wrestling unattached from Rutgers. The Jackson, N.J.,
native competed in the Midlands Tournament in December but withdrew
after an injury.
Head wrestling coach Scott Goodale mentored Scott Winston at
both Jackson Memorial High School and with the Scarlet Knights.
Simply put, Scott Winston had the ability to go anywhere.
Junior D.J. Russo, top, won both of his heavyweight bouts this
weekend at Liberty and American in the nation's capital. The
Netcong, N.J., native did not give up a single point to either
opponent, winning 8-0 and 6-0, respectively.
The Rutgers wrestling team's performance in the spring semester
can only be described in one word — dominant.
After no other school pursued him, sophomore Greg Zannetti, top,
broke into the RU lineup at 165-pounds. The Edison native was part
of last season's recruiting class, ranked third in the nation by
Before Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale arrived on the
Banks, in-state high school wrestling talents were siphoned off
throughout the country to other powerhouse programs. The State
University of New Jersey could not reel in the top grapplers in the
Garden State and watched them defect to schools such as Penn State,
Virginia and even rival Rider. But with Goodale came change. The
Scarlet Knights' recruiting class ranked third in the nation and
comprised of solely New Jersey high school wrestlers. "When we
first heard that we were getting the third best recruiting class in
the country, we knew that this was a huge step in the right
direction," said senior Lamar Brown. "We went from being a Grade C
program to a Grade A, and a lot of that is because of coach Goodale
and his staff. These kids came in and we knew that they could make
a difference in the program. These kids are the real deal." Second
overall recruit in the nation, Scott Winston, highlighted the class
that also boasted state champions Trevor Melde, Joe Langel and
Jesse Boyden. The class accounts for half of the RU starting
lineup, even with Winston redshirting. "The main reason we came in
and recruited these guys was because we felt that they could come
in and win at a national level right away," Goodale said. "These
are kids that came with great credentials so it's no surprise they
are doing this well." Langel flourished in his starting role in the
125-pound weight class. He is on a team-high 14 match unbeaten
streak and the Howell native lists Goodale — a former Jackson
Memorial head coach — as the main reason why he came to RU. "My
town and his were rivals during high school so I found out how good
of a coach he is just from wrestling against him," Langel said. "I
knew I could be a part of a big program that has already made it.
But it's even better to come to a program that is coming from
nowhere and is just at the beginning of something big." The
third-year coach even took a shot on a wrestler who did not have
great credentials, and that risk has paid dividends. Overshadowed
by all of these highly sought-after wrestlers was little-known Greg
Zannetti from Edison. No other college wrestling program contacted
Zannetti, but now in his sophomore season the J.P. Stevens product
finds himself in the starting lineup and holds victories over
opponents from No. 1 Iowa and then-No. 24 Pittsburgh. "Rutgers was
always one of my top choices, and since they were the only school
that approached me, I knew I would come here," he said. Zannetti is
13-5 this season in dual matches while in the starting lineup at
165-pounds and is 3-1 against conference opponents. His early
success on the mat comes as a surprise to Goodale, who may have
found a diamond-in-the-rough just 10 minutes north on Route 27. "He
is a kid that wasn't the most highly recruited, but he comes in
with a tremendous upside," Goodale said. "We knew that he would be
able to win, we just thought it would take him a little bit longer.
He handles pressure, and you can't teach that." This year, the
Knights got the best of both worlds. The program reached out and
nabbed recruits from as far as Georgia-state champion Sam Kuntz. At
the same time, the Knights also brought in the best of New Jersey
in two-time state champion, Vincent Dellefave. Goodale emphasizes
that in-state wrestlers are still the main focus of recruitment,
but they now have the ability to branch out and lure in athletes
from nearby states. "Right now we are at the point where we are
trying to get the best kids in the country, not just in New
Jersey," Goodale said. "We feel we have landed the best kids in
this state the past three years. "Surrounding New Jersey will
always be our focal point, but we are always going to go for the
number one guys in the country. The bar can't be set any higher
than it is right now." Goodale and the No. 23 Knights head to
Washington D.C. for a weekend of back-to-back tilts against Liberty
and American. "Liberty has some hard-nosed guys, and it is going to
be a challenge," he said. "American doesn't have the balance we do,
but they have four heavy hitters. They have the chance to have four
All-Americans. So, it will be our balanced lineup against their
Junior D.J. Russo collides with the nation's No. 5 heavyweight
Zach Rey tomorrow afternoon at Lehigh. Russo received EIWA Wrestler
of the Week honors last weekend following his two victories.
The Rutgers wrestling team has not lost since Dec. 12, 2009, and
Lehigh has a 35-game winning streak against the Scarlet
For the third time this season, opportunity is knocking on the
door for the Rutgers wrestling team.
A two-time state champion in high school, Rutgers freshman
wrestler Vincent Dellefave, top, leads a 125-pound weight class
this season with a 3-1 record in dual meets.
A two-time high school state champion, freshman Vincent
Dellefave got scholarship offers from premier wrestling programs
all over the east coast, including powerhouse Penn State.
PRINCETON — It's the closest thing to a homecoming they get in
Junior transfer Bill Ashnault is 8-2 in his first season
wrestling for the Scarlet Knights, including a major upset over
Bucknell's David Marble, the 13th-ranked competitor in the weight
The Rutgers wrestling team entered the 2009-10 season in the
shadows of an impressive 20-6 finish last year and on the cusp of
breaking into the national rankings.
In the second match of a young season, the Rutgers wrestling
team had a golden opportunity to upset one of the premier wrestling
squads in the nation, No. 17 Penn State.
Sophomore Dominick Russo, top, won the heavyweight bracket at
the Oklahoma Gold Tournament by pinning Edinboro's Chris Birchler
in the final. Russo earned four pins along the way as the Scarlet
Knights finished sixth overall with 120.5 points.
The Rutgers wrestling team went into Saturday's Brockport Gold
Tournament wanting to prove that the Scarlet Knights could compete
against some of the best in the nation.