Hempstead, NY - The 16th-ranked Hofstra Pride Wrestling team begins its 66th season of competition this weekend with road matches against two, top-25 Big 10 opponents.

Hofstra opens the season on Friday, November 9 when the Pride travel to Minneapolis, MN for a dual match against the third-ranked Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota. Match time at the Sports Pavilion is 8 p.m. (ET). Minnesota placed second at the NCAA Championships last March.


Following the Minnesota match, Hofstra moves on to Madison, WI for a match-up against the 25th-ranked Badgers of the University of Wisconsin. Match time at the UW Field House is 2 p.m. (ET)


Hofstra Head Wrestling Coach Rob Anspach begins his second season as head coach and his 11th year on the Pride staff. In his first season as head coach, the Pine Grove, Pennsylvania native recorded a 12-3 dual season, the Colonial Athletic Association championship and a 23rd-place finish at the NCAA Division I Championships with two All-Americans.


The Pride return 14 wrestlers, including eight starters, from last season. Both Hofstra All-Americans return in 2012-13 in seniors Steve Bonanno (Wantagh, NY) and Justin Accordino (Wilkes-Barre, PA). Bonanno, who posted a 31-9 record, captured the CAA title at 125 pounds and placed eighth in the NCAA Championships, opens the new season ranked fourth by both InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News (AWN) and has a top 15 opponent in Minnesota junior David Thorn, who was 14-2 last season, and is ranked 11th by Intermat and 13th by AWN.


Accordino, who was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing two seasons due to knee injuries, was 26-14 last season, placed second in the CAA and placed sixth at 149 pounds in the NCAA Championships. He will not wrestle this weekend. He is ranked fifth by AWN and eighth by InterMat entering the 2012-13 season.


Three other Pride returnees have enjoyed NCAA Championship exposure including two in last year's nationals. Red-shirt juniors Jamie Franco (Monroe, NY) and Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN) are both coming off NCAA appearances and are nationally-ranked this season.


Franco was 21-13 at 133 pounds last year, placed second in the CAA and is ranked 15th by InterMat and 18th by AWN to open the season. He will face Minnesota sophomore All-American Chris Dardanes, who was 25-12 on the season and placed fourth at the NCAA Championships. Dardanes is fifth by AWN and sixth by InterMat this week.


Vaith, who captured the CAA title at 141 and posted a 23-10 mark in 2011-12, opens the season ranked 10th by AWN and 13th by InterMat at 141 pounds. He opens the season against Minnesota sophomore Nick Dardanes, who was 22-10 last year and is ranked seventh by InterMat and eighth by AWN.


Three more Pride wrestlers return to starting roles as senior Paul Snyder (Greensburg, PA), who was a NCAA Championship participant in 2011, was 19-13 at 285 pounds last season. He will open the season with two top 20 opponents in Minnesota junior, defending national champion and top ranked Tony Nelson, who was 32-2 in 2011-12, and Wisconsin freshman Connor Medbery, who is ranked 12th by AWN and 16th by InterMat. Senior Tyler Banks (Griswold, CT) was 12-13 at 157 pounds last season and sophomore Jermaine John (Brooklyn, NY) was 9-17 at 174 pounds as a freshman last year. John will face Minnesota sophomore All-American Logan Storley, who was 25-9 last year and placed sixth at the NCAA Championships. Storley is ranked fifth by AWN and sixth by InterMat.


Hofstra is expected to have four new faces in the starting line-up this weekend. At 149 pounds, senior Matt Spataro (Garfield, NJ), who was 3-3 last season, and red-shirt sophomore Cody Ruggirello (Walden, NY), who has battled injuries his first two seasons, will get long looks by Anspach to fill in for Accordino in his absence. Ruggirello, brother of Hofstra 2011 All-American Lou Ruggirello, was a five-time New York State Championship place-winner including 2007 state champion. The Hofstra entry will face Minnesota sophomore All-American and 2012 national runner-up Dylan Ness, who is ranked number one by AWN and third by InterMat.


At 165 pounds, red-shirt sophomore Nick Terdick (East Northport, NY), a two-time All-New York State selection and 2009 state finalist while at John Glenn High School, gets the starting nod to take over the vacancy left by the graduation of four-time NCAA qualifier and 2011 All-American, P.J. Gillespie. Terdick will face Minnesota senior Cody Yohn, who was 21-11 last year and is ranked eighth by AWN and 10th by InterMat.


At 184 pounds, junior Taras Luzhnyy (Kiev, Ukraine), who placed second at the 2010 World University Championships at 84kg, fills the hole left by the graduation of three-time NCAA qualifier and two-time CAA champion Ben Clymer. Luzhnyy will face Minnesota junior All-American Kevin Steinhaus, who was 34-6 last season and is ranked fourth by both AWN and InterMat.


At 197 pounds, freshman Victor Pozsonyi (Roselle Park, NJ), a two-time New Jersey State championship place-winner and high school All-American, won the spot over red-shirt junior and 2011-12 starter Tim Murphy (Nazareth, PA). Pozsonyi will face Minnesota sophomore Scott Schiller, who was 26-4 last season and is ranked 10th by AWN and 11th by InterMat.


Friday night's match against Minnesota will be the Pride's first meeting with the Golden Gophers since a 18-17 Hofstra victory over then #1 Minnesota at the Asics-Journeymen Northeast Duals in 2006-07. The Pride faced Wisconsin in the 2011-12 regular season opener and defeated the Badgers, 25-12 on Long Island.