Pair of ranked Midshipmen pose challenges for Rutgers
The Rutgers wrestling team canceled its Friday duel with Virginia due to the inclement weather. The No. 9 Scarlet Knights will still be put to the test this weekend as the team still plans to travel Saturday to Annapolis, Md., to face Navy.
The conference matchup marks the sixth EIWA opponent thus far for the Knights and the Midshipmen pose perhaps the biggest threat before Rutgers faces Lehigh.
It was only on Jan. 15 that Navy hosted Lehigh and upset the Mountain Hawks, 19-15.
"If we are able to take care of Navy who just beat Lehigh, then I think that there is no question how good we are," said sophomore Joe Langel.
Navy (3-2) boasts two wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes in senior 157-pounder Bryce Saddoris and 184-pounder junior Luke Rebertus.
Saddoris ranks sixth in the nation, leads the EIWA in wins with 26 and will likely face fellow senior Daryl Cocozzo. Cocozzo heads into the weekend ranked No. 16 at 157 pounds for the Knights.
Only twice this year has Rebertus fell to an unranked wrestler, but it is unlikely he will ever face an unranked wrestler with as much talent as Rutgers' Dan Rinaldi. While the sophomore may not be ranked he owns a 17-5 record.
Rutgers (18-1) won 14 straight matches, last falling on Nov. 21 to Penn State who now holds the spot as No. 1 in the nation. The Knights' duel against Navy marks the third-to-last conference matchup for head coach Scott Goodale and his squad.
"We'll get 10 days before American and 10 days before Lehigh," Goodale said. "I want to make sure we are healthy and rested. I know that probably scares a lot of our alumni and a lot of our donors. What does that mean? Are we going to sit guys? I don't know. But I think that's important."
The team heads back to New Brunswick to host No. 19 American on Feb. 9 at the College Ave Gym. Rutgers closes out its home schedule on Feb. 17 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center against No. 12 Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks rebounded from their loss against Navy to upset then-No. 1 Cornell in Bethlehem, Pa.
"There is no national duel championships, so are these matches important? Yes they are, but we have to be well-rested for the EIWA and national tournaments," Goodale said. "That's got to be our focus."
The EIWA Tournament does not take place until March at Bucknell, but every conference matchup counts toward individual seeding for the tournament.
"This is an important weekend from an individual standpoint because of the EIWA seeding," Goodale said.