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NEW BEGINNINGS r2013-14 Rutgers Wrestling Preview

JOVELLE TAMAYO


2013-14 Wrestling Preview Page 2

October 30, 2013

“Murderer’s Row” reunites on collegiate level By Bradly Derechailo Associate Sports Editor

“Murderer’s row” was not supposed to continue in college. “Honestly, I have no idea [how this happened],” said freshman 133-pounder Corey Stasenko. “This was not supposed to happen at all.” The nickname, given to the lineup of Stasenko, Anthony Ashnault, Scott DelVecchio, Dylan Painton and Troy Heilmann at South Plainfield (N.J.) High School, symbolized the five’s career dominance for the Tigers. They combined for more than 700 individual wins at South Plainfield and delivered three team state titles for head coach Kevin McCann just 15 minutes away from where the Rutgers wrestling team practices. “They were an inspiration in the room to the other athletes,” McCann said. “They worked hard and did all the right things in the wrestling room and in the classroom. They’re well-rounded.” But their weights were thought to be too similar to each other for all of them to remain on the same team on the next level. So they all began looking in different directions. Ashnault, the No. 7-overall national recruit according to Intermat and New Jersey’s first four-time undefeated state champion, had a host of suitors to choose from. Stasenko mulled an offer from NC State, while DelVecchio all but packed his bags when he

accepted a scholarship to the Wolf Pack. Heilmann pledged to North Carolina to join his brother, Nick, and Painton looked at lower-level programs Drexel, Roger William’s and Newberr y College. But one thing was consistent through all five of them. “At first, no one really thought about going to Rutgers exactly,” Painton said. “It wasn’t really in the back of our minds.” Head coach Scott Goodale also understood it would be hard to keep all five together. So for Goodale, who said he first saw them grapple when they were seven and eight years old, getting four to dawn a Scarlet Knights singlet was an accomplishment to say the least. “The goal was to try and get two of them, and then it just worked out where we got four of them. Things worked out for us,” Goodale said. Only Heilmann followed through on his commitment to grapple out of state. For the rest of “Murderer’s Row”, it was a gradual process to becoming teammates again in college. Ashnault was the first to commit to the Knights before he started his quest for his fourth state title. Stasenko, lying on his couch one night after a workout as his sweat soaked the sofa, pledged next. “I called Goodale at 8 o’clock that night and told him,” Stasenko said. The season continued for South Plainfield as it finished as the state’s No. 1 team with a perfect 30-0 record.

Ashnault completed his undefeated season and DelVecchio captured his second straight individual title. Shortly after, Painton decided to give Rutgers a shot. Only DelVecchio remained true to his word and left for NC State. But something did not feel right and he was back in his home state almost as soon as he left. On Aug. 16, he committed to the Knights. “It just wasn’t a good fit,” DelVecchio said. “I think to perform at your best ability you need to be somewhere you’re comfortable and somewhere where you fit in to excel and I just didn’t fit in there. There was no magic there.” Goodale hopes the South Plainfield magic translates to Rutgers during the next five seasons. He knows their future success is out of his hands. All he can do is coach them. “They could be multiple All-Americans and win national titles, but that’s totally up to them,” Goodale said. “They have to put the time [in]. It’s kind of like them star ting over. The one pedigree they bring in is that they won, they’ve always won.” Two Tigers — DelVecchio and Stasenko — figure to make Goodale’s starting lineup Sunday for the Knights’ first dual match against Hofstra. Both registered impressive victories Saturday in the Knights’ wrestle-offs. Ashnault, who figures to redshirt this season to debut in dual action for Rutgers when it competes in the Big Ten, also captured a 7-5

overtime victor y at 149 pounds against Ken Theobold. Four fifths of “Murderer’s Row” will cont i n u e their ca-

reers 15 minutes away from where they began them. It almost never happened. Now that the majority of the group is here, they want to car ve their new paths. “We wrestle hard the whole time and we just want to come out here and give the fans a good show and hopefully they’ll like what they see,” Ashnault said. “We went 3-0 [during the wrestle-offs] for Rutgers, but it’s not South Plainfield anymore. It’s Rutgers.” For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers spor ts updates, follow @TargumSpor ts. PHOTO BY ENRICO CABREDO / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DESIGN BY ALEXA WYBRANIEC / DESIGN EDITOR

2013-14 PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

125: Scott delVecchio

133: Vincent Dellefave

Freshman / South Plainfield, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 44-0* 2013 State Champion at 132 pounds

Senior / Toms River, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 27-10, 16-4 NCAA Qualifier

165: Nick Visicaro

174: Phillip Bakuckas

Junior / Long Branch, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 15-11, 12-5 NCAA Qualifier

* denotes high school record

R. Freshman / Hammonton, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 22-11 unattached

141: Corey stasenko

149: Ken theobold Sophomore / Toms River, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 16-13, 6-7

Sophomore / Roseland, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 13-7 unattached

184: Dan Seidenberg

197: Hayden Hrymack

HWT: Billy Smith

Freshman / South Plainfield, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 42-2*

Senior / Red Bank, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 10-13, 4-9

Sophomore / Lincroft, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 12-15, 0-7

157: Anthony perrotti

Sophomore / Wantage, N.J. 2012-13 Record: 27-9, 17-3 NCAA Qualifier

DESIGN BY ALEXA WYBRANIEC / DESIGN EDITOR


October 30, 2013

2013-14 Wrestling Preview Page 3

Three returners provide Rutgers with leadership By Tyler Karalewich Staff Writer

Redshirt freshman 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckus will be one of potentially four new starters when Rutgers takes the mat Sunday at Hofstra. Head coach Scott Goodale said Bakuckus has improved from last year. ENRICO CABREDO / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Youthful roster offers excitement By Bradly Derechailo

— and begins with Phillip Bakuckus, who will attempt to fill the hole left by 174-pounder Greg Zannetti. One by one, eight wrestlers Bakuckus posted a 22-11 infrom each weight class navidividual record last season wresgated up the podium March tling unattached, but has looked 23 in the darkness of the Wells improved both physically and Fargo Arena. mentally during workouts. In all, the PA system an“I’ve been doing a lot of extras nounced 80 names at the 2013 lately,” Bakuckus said. “I’ve been NCAA National Championships coming in on Wednesdays — our in Des Moines, Iowa, as 17,000 day off — Sundays. I’m just tryscreaming voices echoed off ing to get in the best shape physithe walls. cally as possible. I have big shoes Then-junior 133-pounder Vinto fill.” cent Dellafave was not even in Goodale also has 12 freshmen the building to hear the noise that from a recruiting class which night. Neither were the six other ranked 11th in the country, acmembers of the Rutgers wrestling cording to Intermat. team who made the trip to the Three rookies — 149-pounder middle of the country but missed Anthony Ashnault, 133-pounder out on All-American status. Corey Stasenko and 125-pound“I would say it was a disappointer Scott DelVecchio — all won ment because you always want to Saturday during the Knights’ finish as high as you feel like you wrestle-offs. deserve, and we didn’t finish anyThe Knights’ youth coupled where near where we thought we with their impending move to the would be,” Dellafave said. Big Ten has Goodale anticipating Four of those wrestlers are the future’s potential. gone now, leaving Dellafave, juBut his focus is on this seanior 165-pounder Nick Visicaro son and tr ying to and sophomore gain a type of sucheavyweight Billy Rutgers Wrestling 2013-14 schedule cess he has not Smith as returnyet experienced ers this season Opponent Location Time Date during his time with championin Piscataway. ship experience. Hempstead, N.Y. 1:00 P.M. Hofstra Nov. 3 “What is our All Day Binghamton, N.Y. Nov. 10 Binghamton Open All three inNov. 17 Boston University College Ave. Gym 1:00 P.M. stigma? What’s herit reasonable 7:00 P.M. Clarion Clarion, Pa. Nov. 22 the problem with expectations to Albany, N.Y. All Day Northeast Duals Nov. 30 Rutgers wresat least qualify All Day Grapple at the Garden New York, N.Y. Dec. 1 tling?” Goodale again for nationLas Vegas, Nev. All Day Dec. 6-7 Las Vegas Invite said. “We don’t als, but it will Dec. 14 Princeton Princeton, N.J. 5:00 P.M. have anyone on also fall on them Columbia College Ave. Gym 7:00 P.M. Jan. 3 the podium. So to produce the Harvard College Ave. Gym 1:00 P.M. Jan. 5 they’re focused Scarlet Knights’ College Ave. Gym 6:30 P.M. Jan. 10 American on that.” first All-American Ames, Iowa 7:00 P.M. Jan. 17 Iowa St. since 2002, when 2:00 P.M. Jan. 26 Cornell Ithica, N.Y. For updates on Tom Tonis stood 7:00 P.M. Feb. 8 Lehigh Bethlehem, Pa. the Rutgers wreson the podium in Feb. 15 Lock Haven College Ave. Gym 1:00 P.M. tling team, follow Albany, N.Y. Drexel RAC 7:00 P.M. Feb. 21 Bradly Derechailo “The bottom March 8-9 EIWA Championships Philadelphia, Pa. on Twitter @Bradline is we need to March 20-22 NCAA Championships Oklahoma City, Okla. ly_D. For generdo something at al Rutgers sports that tournament, updates, follow and I’m hoping this @TargumSports. is the group that GRAPHIC BY ALEXA WYBRANIEC / DESIGN EDITOR Associate Sports Editor

carries us through it,” said head coach Scott Goodale. Though last season’s roster failed to produce Goodale’s first All-American since he inherited the program in 2007, the Knights were successful in dual-meet action with a 16-4 record. Goodale will attempt to replicate that number with at least five new starters. The uncertainty is a complete 180 from last year’s roster, which featured eight upperclassmen in the lineup. “It’s scar y. That’s the best way I can put it. It’s absolutely scar y,” Goodale said. “We’ve built this up and there are expectations now. Ever ybody wants to see 16-4 and top 20 in the countr y. I think we have guys that are really, really good that are going to be really good down the line. You hope they’re going to be really good right away. I have no idea.” Goodale’s excitement lies up and down his unproven roster — 88 percent of which consists of sophomores and freshmen

Vincent Dellefave barely raised his voice last season when the Rutgers wrestling team featured eight seniors. Those guys — which included four NCAA qualifiers — are all gone now, leaving the Toms River, N.J., atop the Scarlet Knights’ roster in terms of seniority. “I don’t really talk to much,” said Dellefave, who is one of just two seniors for Rutgers. “So when the guys started asking me stuff and I have to start being vocal, it’s a little out of my game.” In head coach Scott Goodale’s rebuilding program this season, Dellefave serves as the Knights’ blueprint for success. The senior 133-pounder will begin this season ranked 17th in his weight class, according to WIN Magazine. Dellefave boasted an impressive season last year, finishing 27-10 in the regular season and 16-4 in dual competition. He was also the lone Rutgers returning NCAA qualifier who registered a first-round victor y at the NCAA Championships. He sees better things ahead for him this year. “Last year was last year. I’m definitely focused on working off last year’s result to reach the podium this year,” Dellefave said. “The goal is to win every match. Guys who are looking up to me will see my effort, fight and the work I put in to accomplish that goal.” According to sophomore heavyweight Billy Smith, there is no question who is the leader of the Knights. “Vinnie has the biggest role on this team. He is the older kid who ever yone looks up to,” Smith said. “He is the figure who has been here for a while and ever yone respects him. He is the face of the team and has a role I can only hope to work towards someday.” Smith is off to a good start in that regard. The heavyweight competed in the NCAA Championships during his first year wrestling attached, compiling a 27-9 over-

all record. The Wantage, N.J., native also went 17-3 in dual-action. Smith will begin this season ranked 20th by Amateur Wrestling News. Although Smith said in the past the team cares little about rankings, Goodale takes a different approach. “I do look into rankings, although I don’t necessarily bring it up with the guys,” Goodale said. “I thought Billy was disrespected as a national qualifier. There are wrestlers on the list ahead of him who he beat last year and I hope that motivates him to move up.” Smith is on the rise for a program that actually may have underperformed last year. He placed sixth among heavyweights in the EIWA Tournament. “He had a great freshman year a season ago, but really struggled towards the end in his last six matches,” Goodale said. “Unfortunately those are the ones that count. We as a staff need to do a better job getting him rest throughout the year since he is our only heavyweight due to injur y and is therefore vital to the team.” Rutgers’ only returning qualifier who competed at the wrestle-offs Saturday was junior 165-pounder Nick Visicaro. The Long Branch, N.J., native won his matchup in impressive fashion, 11-3 against Anthony Pafumi. Visicaro had an impressive season last year and joins Dellefave and Smith in terms of bring experience back from last season. “Obviously the team has high expectations, but I think the most important thing is that everyone does their own job,” Smith said. “As individuals we sometimes lose track of that. If everyone concentrates and takes care of the little things, then as a team we will find success.” For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

Sophomore heavyweight Billy Smith is one of three returning NCAA qualifiers for Rutgers. Smith posted a 17-3 dual record last season. ENRICO CABREDO / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF / FEBRUARY 2013


ENRICO CABREDO / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


New Beginnings