Langel sparks Rutgers’ dual-meet win
Joey Langel consistently sparked the Rutgers wrestling team’s lineup for the past two seasons, when he made the 125-pound spot in the lineup his own.
He wrestled up a weight class again Thursday night against Drexel at the College Avenue Gym, but the result was no different as he picked up the first points for the Scarlet Knights en route to a 24-9 dual-meet victory to end the season.
It was the last match of the season for the junior Langel, who will give way to injured senior Michael DeMarco at 133 pounds for the postseason. But it started the Knights on the way to their first dual-meet win since Jan. 22 against Navy.
“I think it showed a little bit today that I can still get the guys going,” said Langel, who did not wrestle until Jan. 6 after offseason shoulder surgery. “It’s just a matter of inspiring the guys and getting everybody up. My style for some reason gets the fans up and the guys into it. When you hear that crowd roar, it gets you going.”
The roaring began with Langel’s first takedown less than a minute into his match. It intensified as senior 141-pounder Billy Ashnault flirted with pins through the entirety of his 2-0 decision.
And it peaked in Greg Zannetti’s 20-5 technical fall at 174 pounds.
“He energizes everybody in the building,” head coach Scott Goodale said of Zannetti, who improved to 26-3. “They understand he’s going to score points. He may give up some, but he’s going to score. That’s what we’re trying to create here.”
Sophomore Daniel Seidenberg followed Zannetti’s technical fall with a 12-3 major decision for his first victory since suffering a shoulder injury at the Virginia Duals.
He returned last weekend, but he took a pair of losses.
“I’m not saying that’s an excuse to lose, but I still felt like I was shaking some rust off,” Seidenberg said. “Now that I have a few matches back and finally have a full week of practice, I feel confident.”
Seidenberg won nine consecutive bouts before taking an injury default Jan. 20 against Lehigh. Rutgers had not received a decision at 184 pounds since Jan. 14.
It was the same streak at 157 pounds, which produced only three dual-meet decisions this season — two to open the season, then another against Buffalo.
Freshman Anthony Perrotti, who started the season at 141 pounds, changed that.
The N.J. high school state champion last season at 130 pounds picked up an 8-6 decision against Drexel’s Austin Sommer with a two-point nearfall.
“That changes the whole complexion of the dual meet — you get a win where you’re not expected to get one,” Goodale said. “The other guys understand that and they can wrestle loose and relaxed.”
The Knights followed with a pair of bonus-point victories, but there were encouraging signs for the EIWA Tournament in two weeks throughout the match.
Goodale wants Zannetti to take better shots, and after reminding the 16th-ranked 174-pounder of that midway through the bout, Zannetti did. He wants Seidenberg to score more points, and the sophomore consistently scored takedowns.
Ashnault struggled again to escape from the bottom, but he dominated Frank Cimato from his position on top.
“He’s doing the little things you have to do to win matches at the national tournament,” Goodale said.
But it all started with Langel in a match that held no postseason implications.
His role now is to work out with sophomore 125-pounder Vincent Dellefave, who dropped a 5-3 decision to start the match. So for one more night Langel was the spark.
“I felt that going through my head — we’ve all talked about it,” Langel said. “I needed to go up [a weight class], and I had no problem with it. I wanted to do what was best for the team. That’s my position.”