RU seeks rebound after loss to Drexel
The Rutgers wrestling team lost for only the second time in 11 dual meets Wednesday when it split five bouts with Drexel but lost 20-16.
The Scarlet Knights' last chance to finish their dual meet schedule on a high note comes tonight when they to head back to Pennsylvania to take on Bloomsburg University.
But with No. 11 157 lbs. Scott Winston and 197 lbs. Karim Mahmoud fighting injuries, the Knights are choosing to play it safe in several of tonight's bouts.
"Right now, of course we want to win the dual meet, but it's just important that the guys who are able to win matches can win matches from an individual stand point," said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. "Right now we're battling some injuries, and instead of rushing guys back and trying to win a dual meet, it's more important that we get ready for EIWA's in two weeks."
It was Winston's injury that served as the turning point in Wednesday's meet against Drexel.
Rather than taking the points usually associated with a Winston bout against an unranked opponent, the Knights were forced to substitute the freshman with sophomore Paul Grogan, who dropped a major decision to an unranked Billy Haydt.
Rutgers won three of the meets first four bouts, including a win by 125 lbs. Matt Fusco and 149 lbs. Kellen Bradley, who earned decisions, and 141 lbs. Trevor Melde, who earned a major decision. But Drexel's 133 lbs. Frank Cimato's pin proved costly for the Knights.
RU would go on to lose three of the last five bouts, with their only victories being Matt Pletcher's 7-2 decision at 165 lbs. and DJ Russo's 6-2 decision at heavyweight.
"We were very disappointed — we wanted to win the dual meet. Even with our injuries and not having Scotty we had an opportunity to win the dual meet, and we just didn't get it done," Goodale said. "We're not the kind of team that can just show up; we have to have all our guys and when we don't, somebody has to find a way to win a match that maybe they shouldn't win and we didn't do that [Wednesday]. It's a long season. We hit a little bit of a low mark but we have to get over it."
Tonight, RU will see a much tougher opponent in Bloomsburg.
The Huskies are coming into the meet with four ranked wrestlers, including the No. 7 157 lbs. wrestler in the country in Matt Moley.
No. 28 Pletcher will also see an opponent ranked higher than him in No. 25 Ricky Schmelyun.
"A win would ensure [Pletcher] a spot in the national tournament," Goodale said. "So it's a huge match for him and it's something he's been preparing for quite a while."
Pletcher is viewing the bout as a perfect opportunity to prepare for what might be waiting for him in the national tournament.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Pletcher said. "Bloomsburg is an extremely tough team. It'd be great for me to knock somebody like [Schmelyun] off right before going to the EIWA and hopefully the national tournament. I just want to finish this last week as strong as possible."