PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- For the first time since 1950, the Rutgers wrestling team downed Lehigh in a thrilling 17-16 victory in the RAC on Friday night. Down 16-14 heading into the heavyweight bout, freshman Billy Smith (Wantage, N.J.) notched a crucial decision to give the Scarlet Knights the win over the Mountain Hawks, who were ranked No. 14 in the most recent InterMat rankings.
The victory for was the first for Rutgers (11-2, 4-0 EIWA) over Lehigh since the squad picked up a 16-11 decision over the Mountain Hawks on Feb. 22, 1950 and the second win against Lehigh in the program's history. Lehigh (5-5, 2-3 EIWA) had won the previous 38 matchups in the series. It also marked the first time sixth-year head coach Scott Goodale beat the Mountain Hawks in his career.
Senior 125-pounder Joe Langel (Howell, N.J.) and sophomore 165-pounder Nick Visicaro (Long Branch, N.J.) each picked up bonus-point victories, while senior 174-pounder Greg Zannetti (Edision, N.J.), ranked No. 13, tallied a decision over No. 12 Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh.
The match started at 125 pounds, and Langel put the Scarlet Knights up 4-0 with the 11-1 major decision over Alex Abreu. Rutgers would take a 7-0 lead after junior Vincent Dellefave (Toms River, N.J.) earned a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Mountain Hawk Randy Cruz.
After Lehigh took a 10-7 lead following No. 3 Joey Napoli picking up a major decision at 157-pounds, Visicaro brought the Scarlet Knights back with a 17-6 major decision over the Mountain Hawks' Ben Haas.
The highlight of the night came in a ranked-on-ranked bout between No. 16 Zannetti and No. 10 Brown at 174 pounds. The match went back-and-forth and was tied at 3-3 after Brown got called for stalling with 52 seconds remaining in the third period. With 11 seconds left on the clock. Zannetti picked up a vital takedown to earn the 5-3 decision, giving Rutgers a 14-10 lead.
In the 184-pound bout, senior Dan Rinaldi (Lodi, N.J.), ranked No. 13, wrestled No. 3 Robert Hamlin of Lehigh to a tightly contested match, but fell by decision, 4-2. Following a loss for the Scarlet Knights by decision at 197, Rutgers was down 16-14 heading to the deciding heavyweight bout.
Smith came out on a roll, earning a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead over Mountain Hawk Jack Delia. In the second period, the freshman tallied three points with an escape and a takedown to go up 5-0 and wouldn't look back. Smith held the third period scoreless and earned one point with a 2:08 riding time advantage to seal the victory for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers is back in action on the road, taking on Harvard on Sunday, Jan. 20 in Cambridge, Mass., at 1 p.m. before traveling to Providence, R.I., to face Brown at 6:30 p.m. on the same day. Both matches are EIWA contests.
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125: Joe Langel (RU) major dec. Alex Abreu (Lehigh), 11-1
133: Vincent Dellefave (RU) dec. Randy Cruz (Lehigh), 3-2
141: Laike Gardner (Lehigh) dec. Trevor Melde (RU), 5-3
149: Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Ken Theobold (RU), 5-1
157: No. 4 Joey Napoli (Lehigh) major dec. No. 17 Scott Winston (RU), 9-1
165: Nick Visicaro (RU) major dec. Ben Haas (Lehigh), 17-6
174: No. 16 Greg Zannetti (RU) dec. No. 10 Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh), 5-3
184: No. 3 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. No. 13 Dan Rinaldi (RU), 4-2
197: John Bolich (Lehigh) dec. Dan Seidenberg (RU), 4-2
HWT: Billy Smith (RU) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh), 6-0