Scarlet Knights Spring Sports Primer

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The snow is melting and warmer days are coming (hopefully), and that means the spring sports schedule is underway at Rutgers. was at spring sport media day, and offers this breezy guide to giving away a few nuggets of information on the Rutgers' sports that don't always get the most publicity.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The basketball season winds down and the start of spring football practice remains a month away, but things are heating up for the non-revenue spring sports at Rutgers.

The Olympic sports held a media day this week, and was there to check in on some of the sports that don't get nearly the notoriety or exposure as football and basketball. We tried to boil it down to a reader-friendly format to help everyone gain a little perspective and knowledge about those sports.

Here are some fun facts and interesting tidbits to help you learn more about the Olympic spring sports at Rutgers:


Coach: Fred Hill (28th season)
Need to know: The Scarlet Knights began the season last weekend by going 1-2 at No. 18 Miami. The teams split the first two games in extra innings.
The Scarlet Knights' top three pitchers are all converted relievers, including former closer Tyler Gebler. The freshman all-American had a 1.75 ERA and set the school's single-season record with 12 saves in 2010, but he made the move to starter and is one of the early choices to be in Hill's top three when conference play arrives in late March.
Next game: vs. Michigan, Friday, 2 p.m.

Men's Lacrosse

Coach: Jim Stagnitta (10th season)
Need to know: The Scarlet Knights opened the season with convincing wins against Wagner and Manhattan, and are looking to make a push toward the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.
Rutgers is young with five seniors on the roster. In the first two games, junior Will Mangan scored six goals (on eight shots) and eight ground balls, red-shirt freshman Scott Klimchak had five goals and five assists and junior Michael Diehl had four goals.
Goalkeeper Joseph Donnelly, a sophomore, played the bulk of the minutes in the opening two games.
Next game: at UMBC, Saturday, 1 p.m.


Coach: Jay Nelson (5th season)
Need to know: Rutgers is getting very little respect within the Big East. The Scarlet Knights went to the conference tournament for the first time in 12 years in 2010, return all of its outfield players and were picked to finish …11th in 2011.
"I don't really feel like we're getting respect, but a lot of us use it as motivation because they're underestimating us," said outfielder Mikelyn Messina, who has two home runs this season. "It just shows they underestimate teams that are not usually there based off our post years, but we're ready."
The only move in the starting lineup is sophomore pitcher Abby Houston. She got off to a rough start when the Scarlet Knights opened the season with four losses last weekend in southern California, but she brings plenty of experience. She started 10 games and had a 4.87 ERA in 54 2/3 innings.
"I don't feel like it's set in stone (being the No. 1), so I have to keep working hard and trying to get better every time I go out there," Houston said. "I just need to relax. That's what I think because I put so much pressure on myself because I don't want to let anyone down."
Next game: vs. Arkansas, today, 2 p.m. (Corpus Christi, Texas)

Women's Lacrosse

Coach: Laura Brand-Sias (9th season)
Need to know: The Scarlet Knights opened the season Wednesday with an 11-10 win at Temple as they look to build toward the Big East opener March 19 at Connecticut.
Leadership is big, and Brand-Sias believes Rutgers has plenty of it in the form of a quartet of senior captains in attacker Kristen Anderson, defender Mary Moran and midfielders Marlena Welsh and Shawn Lopez.
"They all cover different aspects of a leader," Brand-Sias said. "They all have different personalities, different strengths, and they're doing a good job of playing off those strengths. We have a really close team, and the dynamic on our team is great."
The last time Rutgers made the NCAAs was 1999, when Brand-Sias was a senior at Rutgers. Next game: at Cornell, Saturday, 3 p.m.


Coach: Chris Mazzuchetti (1st season)
Need to know: Mazzuchetti is a former pro at Colonia Country Club and a PGA Class "A" member who moved into the college ranks. The hope for Rutgers is Mazzuchetti will use the connections he made in the business world to better recruiting while also bringing his teaching techniques after spending nine years at Colonia Country Club.
"How do I get to get the best talent to come into Jersey or stay in Jersey?" said Mazzuchetti, who is from East Brunswick, N.J. "My main goal is to say, ‘Ok, I want to set up the best golf courses.' I know the head pro at a lot of course …and these guys already agreed that we could play there a few times a month. Now, we're not only playing at the best golf courses in the state, but in the country.
"As a PGA pro, that could also entice guys to come in here. And, nothing breeds success like success."
Long-time men's and women's coach Maura Waters-Ballard (18th season) has transitioned to director of golf and will also remain as the women's coach.
Next match: Men: March 18-19, Homewood Suites Invitational (Port St. Lucie, Fla.); Women: March 12, vs. Seton Hall, (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)

Track and Field

Need to know: On the men's side, Rutgers is known for its jumpers, and it has a good one in freshman Devin Jones. He had a chance to jump at LSU, but wanted to stay close to home and so decided on Rutgers, and recently won the Big East indoor title in the triple jump.
Jones, who is from Booton, N.J., also played basketball in high school and had ideas of walking-on with the Scarlet Knights basketball team.
"I had a couple offers from Division II schools in Texas, but I didn't want to go that far," the 6-2 Jones said. "I played with the (Rutgers) team over the whole summer, but I couldn't do it because of my track schedule.
Instead, Jones elected to concentrate on jumping, and recently added the long jump to his resume.
"Funny thing is I didn't even know how to triple-jump until I started it (in high school)," Jones said. "I went on Youtube and I watched the best triple jumpers in the Olympics and I tried to mimic what they did. I love it. It's a fun event to me. It's a hop, skip and a jump."
On the women's side, senior Natalie Crickett is a Big East champion in the discus and junior Alex Kelly is looking to build on early success in her career, which included winning the javelin at the Penn Relays as a freshman.
Next meet: Men: March 18, Bulls Invitational (Tampa); Women: March 17-19, Bulls Invitational

Women's Tennis

Coach: Ben Bucca (6th season)
Need to know: The season began with a Jan. 26 loss to Princeton, but since then Rutgers has gone 4-1, with each win being 7-0. No. 1 singles player Amy Zhang is 4-2 at No. 1 singles. One interesting aspect of the team is six of the eight players are from outside of New Jersey, with two each from Connecticut, South Carolina and Texas. Next game: at Louisville, Saturday, 2 p.m.

Women's Rowing

Coach: Max Borghard (16th season)
Need to know: Not a completely-funded sport with Rutgers offering 10 scholarships while the NCAA allows for 20. The season begins March 26 at the Murphy Cup Regatta in Philadelphia.

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