Rutgers backs into postseason
The Rutgers wrestling team failed to end its regular season on a high in its final dual meet, losing 21-13 to Bloomsburg University.
With No. 11 Scott Winston and 197 lbs. Karim Mahmoud sitting out because of injuries, the Scarlet Knights went into the meet knowing the odds were stacked against them. Despite the loss they were pleased with many of the results.
"I actually like the fact that everybody expects us to win every match around here now," head coach Scott Goodale said. "That's the expectation, that's what we tried to build. But this is part of the wrestling season — you're going to have injuries. And we're not at the point where we can have two, three guys out and be able to knock off a quality team like Bloomsburg."
For the second straight dual meet, the Knights opened up with a win by freshman Matt Fusco at 125 lbs. This time, Fusco earned his biggest victory of the season with a 10-7 decision over No. 25 Ian Moser.
After Fusco's upset, RU dropped two out of the next three bouts with losses at 133 lbs. and 149 lbs. and a win at 141 lbs. where freshman Trevor Melde scored a decision over the Huskies' Rick Donald.
At 157 lbs., Winston's presence was sorely missed when his replacement, sophomore Paul Grogan, was pinned only 44 seconds into the bout by No. 8 Matt Moley.
"One of the reasons we had the match up with Bloomsburg was because we wanted to see Winston wrestle [Matt Moley]," Goodale said. "But right now it's all about the [Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association] Tournament, and we need to have him fully recovered and prepared."
With the bout at 157 being the low point for the Knights in the match, the high point for RU came one bout later when Matt Pletcher won a 1-0 decision over No. 25 Ricky Schmeylun.
"Pletcher just put himself in a great, great position to make the national tournament and make some noise there," Goodale said. "He's wrestling awfully well ... He's been huge for this team, and it's kind of what you would expect a senior to be. He's our senior leader."
After two periods of scoreless wrestling, Pletcher controlled Schmeylun on the mat in the final period and earned one point for riding time to give him the win.
"That's what it's all about," Goodale said. "That's how you become an All-American. You need to win tough matches like that."
RU could not capitalize on Pletcher's momentum and lost the next three bouts. The Knights' only win after Pletcher was at heavyweight, where sophomore DJ Russo earned a 14-4 major decision over Bloomsburg's Zach Walsh.
"I actually thought we wrestled really, really well," Goodale said. "We went there and knocked off two nationally ranked guys ... And we competed at every single weight class. The end result was not what we were looking for, so we're not satisfied. But I thought it was one of our better efforts."