Sebastian Rivera after defeating Seth Gross of Wisconsin (Photo/Juan Garcia)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Two-time All-American, two-time Big Ten champion and New Jersey native Sebastian Rivera has enrolled at Rutgers University as a graduate transfer student. Rivera, who previously competed at Northwestern from 2016-20, is immediately eligible to participate in 2020-21 for Rutgers wrestling and will have one season of eligibility remaining.
"We're excited to welcome Sebastian back home to Jersey and cannot wait to get him in our wrestling room with the rest of the guys," said head coach Scott Goodale. "Sebastian is an instant threat to win both a Big Ten and national title and it is awesome he will have an opportunity to do so in his home state with a Rutgers singlet on."
Rivera also defeated two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee of Iowa to claim the 125-pound conference title in 2019. Rivera placed third at the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh, his highest-career finish at the national tournament after he placed sixth in 2018 at 125 pounds. Rivera earned the No. 1 overall seed in his weight class at this year's NCAA Championships in Minneapolis before the season was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A former New Jersey high school standout, Rivera was a two-time state placewinner and captured a NJSIAA state title in 2016 while wrestling at Christian Brothers Academy. Rivera went 31-1 en route to his state title as a senior, as he also claimed regional and district titles along with a gold medal at Super 32. Rivera finished his high school career as a three-time district and two-time region champion and became CBA's first individual state title winner since 1968.
A native of Toms River, New Jersey, Rivera is the son of Melissa and Steve Rivera. Steve Rivera was a Division III national champion at The College of New Jersey and was inducted into the NWCA Division III Hall of Fame in 2018.
Rivera joins a program that wrapped up another successful dual season, as its 10-7 record in 2019-20 marked the 14th consecutive winning campaign for the Scarlet Knights and the 13th since Goodale took over the program in 2007. RU also finished ranked in the NWCA Coaches Poll for the ninth time under Goodale's leadership. Home attendance for wrestling at the RAC remained one of the highest in the country, as Rutgers was fourth nationally with 4,292 fans per home event.