BELGRADE, SERBIA – Resident athlete Sebastian Rivera secured a silver medal at the 2023 World Championships on Tuesday in Belgrade, Serbia. With his performance, Rivera will represent Team Puerto Rico in the 65-kilogram weight class at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Rivera finished his tournament with a 4-1 record to advance to the 65-kilogram final, where he lost to Ismail Musukaev (Hungary) to finish second. With Jeff Buxton and Donny Pritzlaff in his corner, the five-time All-American and 2022 NCAA bronze medalist ripped off three consecutive technical victories to advance to the semifinals against Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia). Down 9-4 to Tevanyan in the final period, Rivera produced back-to-back takedowns and followed with a two-point turn at the buzzer for the come-from-behind 10-9 win to secure his spot in the championship match.
Rivera joins a list of several former Rutgers wrestlers to excel at the highest level of international competition. 2019 NCAA Champion Anthony Ashnault picked up back-to-back Pan-American individual titles in 2019 and 2020, while Richie Lewis secured a gold medal for Team USA at the 2017 U23 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Rivera recently captured a bronze medal for Team Puerto Rico this past May at the 2023 Pan-American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Competing at 65 kilograms, Rivera defeated Albaro Rudecindo Camacho (Dominican Republic) by VPO1, 9-2, to finish third in his weight class at the championships.
Rivera closed out that tournament with three victories, also defeating Matheus Da Luz Barreto (Brazil) and Wber Euclides Cuero Munoz (Columbia) on the championship side of the bracket. A decorated freestyle wrestler, Rivera finished second at last year’s Pan-American Championships, placed fifth at the 2022 UWW Senior World Championships and won the Mattero Pellicone and the Grand Prix of Spain.
The Toms River, New Jersey, native finished his final collegiate season with a 30-1 record for Rutgers en route to a third-place finish at the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Detroit. Rivera became the fourth individual to secure a top-three finish at nationals for the Scarlet Knights, joining Anthony Ashnault (2019), Nick Suriano (2018 & 2019) and Mike Leta (1960). Rivera and Leta are the only national bronze medalists in program history. Rivera also finished as the nation’s leader in tech falls last season with 14 and won 25 of his matches by bonus points.
Rivera closed his collegiate career as a five-time All-American (four NCAA, one NWCA) and two-time Big Ten Champion. Rivera produced 115 career wins at Northwestern and Rutgers, which included 20 at the NCAA Tournament and 42 for the Scarlet Knights.