Everything was falling into place this season for Dom Parisi - or so he thought.
Competing in his first varsity season, the Appalachian State University wrestler thought he might be destined for successes similar to those that made him a three-time state wrestling champ at Concord's Jay M. Robinson High. He was fresh off a tournament in which he defeated a three-time NCAA tournament participant.
Then Parisi suffered a knee injury Nov. 20 that ended his season well short of his goal of competing in the NCAA tournament. Parisi had surgery in December and now faces a rehab that will keep him off the mat for six to eight months.
"This season I would have won the (Southern Conference championship) and gone to the NCAA nationals and competed well there, too," Parisi said. "I possibly could have made all-American, which is huge."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Parisi landed on the ASU campus in August 2010, expecting to redshirt his first year. Wrestling unattached, Parisi was still eligible to compete in open tournaments, but his wins and losses there did not count against his career record.
A torn elbow ligament kept him out of action for more than a month, but he competed in three other tournaments. He won the Appalachian Open, the Mountaineers' home tourney.
ASU coach JohnMark Bentley felt the redshirt season paid huge dividends. Parisi, encouraged, stayed in Boone over the summer and trained six days a week.
"Going into the (2011-12) season, I was completely ready," said Parisi. "In our wrestle-off last year, I lost to the starter, who had the starting spot when I was in high school.
"I beat the same guy this year and earned the starting spot."
The Mountaineers launched the 2011-12 season at Virginia Tech's Hokie Open. Parisi competed at 125 pounds and posted an 11-2 decision against Old Dominion's Rob Deutsch.
In the second round, Parisi pinned Virginia Tech's Jarrod Garnett, who has won two ACC championships, competed in three NCAA championships and was ranked sixth in the nation in the pre-season.
Parisi took a 6-1 decision against The Citadel's Richard Alarcorn but dropped a 4-3 decision to another Virginia Tech wrestler, Ty Mitch, to finished as the tournament's runner-up.
Parisi posted wins in his next two matches by pin and forfeit in dual meets against Anderson and Belmont Abbey. On his way to Philadelphia for the Keystone Open in mid-November, Parisi was brimming with confidence.
"I felt great going in," he said. "My mental game was the best it's ever been."
Parisi says he got in a "scramble situation" with Penn's Geoffery Bostany and injured his left knee.
Parisi forfeited the next two matches.
A visit to the doctor a couple weeks after the injury revealed he had torn four ligaments. On Dec. 16, Parisi had surgery in Charlotte.
"I think he was capable of getting on the podium (top 8) at the NCAA tournament," said Bentley. "If there's anything good we can take out this (injury), it's that with that win at Virginia Tech over a ranked opponent, he believes he can beat anyone in the country.
"Unfortunately, the injury occurred, so we'll have to start over and get him healthy again."