Wrestling: Sebastian Rivera joins Rutgers as graduate transfer


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Sebastian Rivera competes against Nebraska. The former Northwestern wrestler and New Jersey native is transferring to Rutgers for his final season of eligibility.

Drew Schott, Reporter


Sebastian Rivera is going home.

The former Northwestern wrestler and New Jersey native announced on Instagram Friday that he is transferring to Rutgers for his final season of eligibility.

Under head coach Matt Storniolo, the three-time All-American won 74 matches over his four-year career in Evanston. Triumphant in 14 contests his freshman year, Rivera — who competed for NU in the 125-pound weight class — earned a 31-8 record the following season and a sixth place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships. For his performance, he received All-American honors, becoming the 40th wrestler in NU history to do so.

Rivera followed up his phenomenal redshirt freshman season by winning 30 matches and the Big Ten 125-pound weight class title. Named an All-American for the second straight campaign, Rivera finished third at the 2019 NCAA Championships after a shocking loss to Virginia’s Jack Mueller.

For the 2019-20 season, Rivera moved up to the 133-pound weight class. He started the season off strong before a high-ankle sprain sidelined him for six weeks.

Returning in mid-February, Rivera earned the fifth-seed in the 133-pound weight class for the 2020 Big Ten Championships at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J. In stunning fashion, he defeated both top seed Seth Gross of Wisconsin and Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young for his second straight Big Ten title.

Rivera, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, finished with a 13-2 overall record. He secured the top spot in his weight class for the 2020 NCAA Championships before the season’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no postseason tournament happening, the National Wrestling Coaches Association gave Rivera his third All-American nod because of his seed at the national championships.

A Jackson, New Jersey native, Rivera returns to the Garden State after a storied high-school wrestling career. He won 73 matches at Christian Brothers Academy and was a New Jersey state champion.

Rivera will start his graduate transfer campaign for the Scarlet Knights at the same place where he wrestled his last match for the Cats: the RAC. As his arrival to Piscataway has brought hopes of a national championship for Rutgers fans, Rivera may move up to the 141-pound weight class. According to James Kratch of NJ.com, Rivera could change classes once again since the Scarlet Knights have both reigning national champion Nick Suriano and All-American Sammy Alvarez at 133 pounds.

In NU’s 133-pound weight class, Storniolo will look to redshirt juniors Micah Krueger and Colin Valdiviez, as well as redshirt freshman Justin Benjamin, to try and replicate Rivera’s success on the mat. Krueger went 0-4 in 2019-20, but both Benjamin and Valdiviez saw success this past season. Benjamin won the Fr/So Division at the Cyclone Open, while Valdiviez placed third at the Lindenwood Open.

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Twitter: @dschott328

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