Losses mount with weekend falls at RAC
Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale understands this season is about the end of the year, not Saturday’s National Duals regional bracket.
That did little to make it any easier.
Cal Poly forfeited the matchups he wanted to test his All-American candidates, and his 125-pounder forfeited a match of his own.
The Scarlet Knights fell, 24-22, to Cal Poly, receiving 18 of those points after Cal Poly wrestlers opted not to take the mat at 174, 184 and 197 pounds. It gave Rutgers a 1-point lead entering the heavyweight bout. Then Cal Poly won it and the match.
“We won one match. It was awful,” Goodale said. “The matchups we wanted — [Greg] Zannetti and [Dan] Rinaldi against nationally ranked guys — they didn’t wrestle. We have guys now that just get a little injured, and in their mind it’s all about the end of the year, so they don’t want to wrestle. That’s where we’re at.”
It left Zannetti and Rinaldi, both juniors, 1-0 on the day after winning their first-round bouts in a 19-13 loss to 14th-ranked Kent State.
Zannetti picked up an 8-0 major decision and then had Cal Poly’s fourth-ranked 174-pounder Ryan DesRoches in his sights. Rinaldi earned a 5-3 decision and then missed an opportunity against Cal Poly’s 18th-ranked Ryan Smith at 197 pounds.
“It would have been a good opportunity, but there will be plenty of those guys at the end of the season,” said Zannetti, who improved to 25-3 on the season and had Rinaldi join him with 20-plus wins. “I think it would have been good, definitely. It would have a national tournament type of feel to it.”
Senior 141-pounder Billy Ashnault’s entire day was like that, as he faced the second- and 10th-ranked wrestlers nationally in his weight class.
He fell to No. 10 Tyler Small of Kent State, 2-0, and then took Cal Poly’s second-ranked Boris Novachkov to overtime and lost, 1-0. Ashnault battled to ride Novachkov for the entire second period and then struggled to escape from the bottom as last year’s national runner-up returned the favor in the third.
Once it reached overtime, Novachkov rode Ashnault and escaped.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that hard [to escape],” Ashnault said. “Once I was out there, he was really strong on top. But at some point I have to get off bottom. There’s no excuse for that.”
Neither Ashnault nor Goodale were happy with the results, though both recognized the positives of wrestling with nationally ranked foes.
But there was no hiding Goodale’s feelings about sophomore 125-pounder Vincent Dellefave’s decision to forfeit his bout against Cal Poly.
Goodale wants Dellefave to wrestle the EIWA Tournament and NCAA Championships at 125 pounds, despite the experience of junior Joey Langel, because of his stronger résumé.
Dellefave lost an 11-0 major decision to Kent State’s fourth-ranked Nic Bedelyon and sat against Cal Poly afterward.
“It’s his decision. He didn’t want to wrestle,” Goodale said. “He says he was hurt. He was medically cleared to wrestle. He didn’t wrestle. He said he was hurt. Never in all my years of coaching wrestling has an athlete not taken the mat.
“We just lack toughness. That’s what it is.”
It led Goodale to make a lineup change in hopes of finding a dual-meet spark. Freshman Anthony Perrotti, who started the year at 141 pounds and now weighs 149, wrestled Cal Poly at 157 pounds.
“We haven’t done anything at 157 — not one thing all year long,” Goodale said. “I was just looking for something different.”
But the results were the same all day.
Perrotti lost, 6-5, following up Rutgers’ only win in the consolation match courtesy of junior Mario Mason’s 24-11 major decision at 149 pounds. They were the only four points Rutgers earned, as Cal Poly forfeited the rest, but still left with a win.
“It’s been frustrating the whole second half of the year,” Ashnault said. “But as everybody knows, teams go 1-15 and at the end of the year have three All-Americans, and that’s a whole different story. That’s what we’re hoping for.”