PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 13, 2013) – The Rutgers wrestling team qualified seven wrestlers for the 2013 NCAA Championships, held inside Wells Fargo Arena from March 21-23. Junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave (Toms River, N.J.) and freshman HWT Billy Smith (Wantage, N.J.) each earned at-large bids, joining automatic qualifiers Trevor Melde (Hewitt, N.J.), Scott Winston (Jackson, N.J.), Nick Visicaro (Long Branch, N.J.), Greg Zannetti (Edison, N.J.) and Dan Rinaldi (Lodi, N.J.).
The seven RU qualifying wrestlers, led by sixth-year head coach Scott Goodale, is tied for the third most competitors the program has ever sent to the NCAA Championships. Last season, five Scarlet Knights participated in the tournament, including Winston, Zannetti and Rinaldi. The NCAA Division I Wrestling Selection Committee announced brackets and seeds on Wednesday.
At 133 pounds, Dellefave has compiled a 26-8 record through the EIWA Championships and came on towards the end of the season, winning 15 of his last 17 bouts. This marks his first trip to the NCAA Championships and he will face 12th-seeded Jordan Conaway of Penn State in the opening round.
Melde qualified for his third trip at 141 pounds to NCAAs, securing his spot with a sixth-place finish at the EIWA Tournament. The senior also qualified in 2011 and 2010, redshirting the 2012 season. He finished the season with a 20-12 record and faces off against Dean Pavlou of Chattanooga to start the Championships. Melde pinned Pavlou in 1:17 on Dec. 16, 2012.
Senior 157-pounder Winston is one of two Scarlet Knights to not miss an NCAA Championships in their career, making his fourth trip. He compiled a 25-10 record this season and has tallied 104 wins in a Rutgers singlet. The senior secured his tournament bid by finishing in fifth place at the EIWA Championships. Meeting him in the initial round will be Andy McCulley of Wyoming.
A sophomore 165-pounder, Visicaro punched his first ticket to NCAAs by placing fifth at the EIWA Tournament to receive one of the five automatic qualifying spots from the conference at his weight class. He went 15-9 this year and will square off against third-seeded Peter Yates of Virginia Tech to start the tournament.
At the 174 weight class, senior Zannetti is scheduled to make his second NCAA Championships appearance, as he also secured his bid at the conference tournament. The 19th-ranked wrestler in the country from AWN, Zannetti posted a 27-8 mark this season and takes on eighth-seeded Nick Heflin of Ohio State.
Leading active Rutgers grapplers with 107 victories (fifth all-time), senior 184-pounder Rinaldi sealed his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships by earning finishing in fourth place at the EIWA Championships. This season, the No. 14 wrestler in the country holds a 27-6 record and drew Cody Magrum of Ohio State in the tournament’s opening round.
Smith makes his first trip to the NCAA Championships after going 27-9 in his rookie season. The freshman led RU with 17 dual wins this season. He is matches up with Ernest James of Edinboro to start the tournament.
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2013 NCAA Championships – Rutgers First-Round Matchups
133 pounds: Vincent Dellefave (RU) vs. No. 12 Jordan Conaway (PSU)1
41 pounds: Trevor Melde (RU) vs. Dean Pavlou (CHATT)
157 pounds: Scott Winston (RU) vs. Andy McCulley (WYO)
165 pounds: Nick Visicaro (RU) vs. No. 3 Peter Yates (VATECH)
174 pounds: Greg Zannetti (RU) vs. No. 8 Nick Heflin (OSU)
184 pounds: Dan Rinaldi (RU) vs. Cody Magrum (OSU)
HWT: Billy Smith (RU) vs. Ernest James (EDIN)******