Senior Dan Rinaldi walked out of the Salem Civic Center last Sunday with a 4-0 record in the Hokie Open, and as the top 184-pounder in his field.
But the Lodi, N.J., native felt he could have done better.
“Personally, I didn’t wrestle my best at the Hokie Open,” Rinaldi said. “But to be able to win when you’re not at your best, it’s a big thing.”
Rinaldi also feels that way about his performance in March, when — at 197 pounds — he compiled a 1-2 record at last year’s NCAA Championships.
But the excitement the beginning of the year presents is something he thinks will yield him better results.
“I’ve been waiting for this since last March,” Rinaldi said. “To get back on the mat and get back on the right foot after a disappointing March, it is going to be fun.”
While the Hokie Open was the Rutgers wrestling team’s first competition of the season, Sunday’s dual meet against Clarion at the College Avenue Gym is the Scarlet Knights’ first taste at team action.
Rinaldi believes this year’s version of the Knights is
“We all feel pretty good about it, and we are all managing our weight well, which is a big thing,” Rinaldi said. “I think we are doing a lot better with our weights this year and recovering our bodies. We are doing it smart this year.”
And while it would be ideal to ease into things, senior 157-pounder Scott Winston gets no favors from his opponent.
Clarion 157-pounder James Fleming went 33-4 last season and comes attached with All-American recognition next to his name after placing fifth at the NCAA Championships.
“It’s a big match for me,” Winston said. “So I have to step up and put a statement right off the back [of] Week 2 of the season.”
Head coach Scott Goodale sees similar challenges Winston faces in Clarion as a whole. Goodale wrestled against Clarion in his days
as a varsity wrestler at Lock Haven (Pa.).
“Clarion, they’re Pennsylvania boys, so they’ll be good on the mat,” Goodale said. “They are tough kids, hard-nosed kids and hard country. All they did growing up was wrestle.”
The Knights are at full strength against the Golden Eagles, as both senior 125-pounder Joe Langel and sophomore 165-pounder Anthony Volpe return after being held out with injuries.
Langel, an NCAA qualifier in 2011, gives Rutgers a veteran at 125 pounds, where freshman Sean McCabe saw time this season in a starting capacity.
Goodale said besides deciding on whether he will put in Volpe in place of sophomore Nick Visicaro, the only weight class he was unsure of for Sunday was at 133 pounds.
Junior Vincent Dellefave and freshman Maverick Passaro have failed to pull away from one another.
“Other than those two [classes], we are pretty much set,” Goodale said.
Goodale is also set at 184 pounds, a position Rinaldi took over.
The last time Rinaldi wrestled at 184 pounds was 2011, when he qualified for his second NCAA Championships and posted a 24-10 record.
But as far as expectations are concerned, he has no predictions for what is to come in his final campaign for the Knights.
“I’ll let you know in March,” Rinaldi said. “But I think I’m going to be alright.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.