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MAHWAH, NJ—Rutgers fans have started their summer on a somber note, as the Scarlet Knight community mourns the loss of rising sophomore wrestler Sam Cali.
According to the New Jersey State Police, a NJ Department of Transportation employee discovered a blue Lexus had gone off the road on southbound I-287 on the morning of Monday, June 20.
Two deceased men were found outside of the vehicle, including Cali and Leonidas Vagias, both of Montville Township.
Both Cali and Vagias, a kicker and punter for the football team who went on to join the University of Rhode Island football team, were standout athletes at their alma mater, Don Bosco Prep.
Cali was a two-time district champion wrestler, compiling an 89-28 record in his high school career before joining the Rutgers wrestling team as an incoming freshman last July.
Cali redshirted his freshman year at Rutgers, only competing in three events: the National Collegiate Open, the 83rd Annual Wilkes University Open, and the Nittany Lion Open.
Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale expressed his grief over Cali’s passing.
“Sam was a great young man who everyone on the team truly loved being around,” Goodale told ScarletKnights.com. “He loved wrestling and being part of our Rutgers family. Anytime you lose a teammate it hurts, and this hurts really bad. We send our prayers to the families and will keep Sam a part of everything that we do.”
Cali’s teammates, and other New Jerseyans, also honored the young man’s memory in posts on social media.
“Rest in peace to my teammate my good friend and of course my family,” posted Anthony Perrotti on Twitter. “Sam you were a great kid I still cant believe this is real…Watched you start wrestling when you were five and was blessed to have you on my college team. Rest in paradise kid I love you.”
UFC fighter and New Jersey native Frankie Edgar also sent his condolences, tweeting, “Sad news for the @RUWrestling program my thoughts and prayers are with the Cali family.”
Cali’s Twitter account shows he was an avid fan of sports, as well as the popular fast food chain Chipotle.
Cali leaves behind his parents Michael and Teresa, and his brother Michael.