Winston fails to solve Lehigh’s Hatchett in EIWA title defense
Four Knights earn NCAA?bids in forgettable conference tourney
PRINCETON — As the boos in Jadwin Gymnasium rained down on Scott Winston yesterday, Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale grabbed the 165-pounder he coached for the past eight years by the head.
“Two minutes,” Goodale told Winston, entering the third period of the EIWA title bout against Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett. “It’s about you right now. Get a takedown and win the match.”
The takedown never came though, and two minutes turned into two minutes and an overtime period, where Hatchett scored a takedown for a 4-2 decision and his third consecutive victory against Winston dating back to last season.
The redshirt junior finished second a year after winning the conference title at 165 pounds, and the Rutgers wrestling team placed seventh out of 14 teams. But the second-seeded Winston was one of four Scarlet Knights to secure automatic bids to next week’s NCAA Championships, and afterward, that was his focus.
“This weekend and next weekend are the two biggest of the year, but if you go and tear it up in two weeks, no one remembers this,” Winston said. “I won the EIWAs last year, but no one remembers that. They remember the fact that [Hatchett] was an All-American.”
The ninth-ranked Hatchett secured his All-American status last season against Winston in another overtime match that Goodale said was similar to this bout.
Winston scored the first takedown each time, but proved unable to follow with another.
Officials warned him for stalling as he defended shots, then the crowd on Princeton’s campus turned sour when he delayed the start of the third period to fix his headgear. But Winston and Goodale agreed Hatchett’s shots were only halfhearted.
Still, the stalling call was in Winston’s mind in the sudden victory overtime, where he managed to escape a near takedown, only to give up the decisive one with 13 seconds remaining.
“I never felt threatened other than — I took a half shot at the end because I was worried about getting called for stalling,” Winston said. “Then he snapped me down. It was stupid. That’s the only part that bothers me. To give something up so easy like that, that’s what bothers me.”
Winston remained with his face down on the mat as Hatchett made his way to the center of the mat for the official to raise his hand as the victor.
Winston said before the match that Hatchett took his pride in their first match, then his All-American status in their second. This one hurt just as bad.
“I’m not going to completely forget it, but I’m not going to be upset about it for too long,” Winston said. “It’s fresh. Last year it happened, I had knee surgery and I was off the mat — I couldn’t do anything about it. I can go back tonight and work out. I can work out tomorrow. I can work out six times a day. It’s fresh. It’s motivating.”
Senior 141-pounder Billy Ashnault, junior 174-pounder Greg Zannetti and junior 197-pounder Daniel Rinaldi will join Winston in St. Louis at the NCAA Championships. Ashnault and Rinaldi finished fourth in their weight classes, while Zannetti placed third.
Junior 149-pounder Mario Mason will likely join them with an at-large bid, but he suffered an ankle sprain on the first day of the competition and was forced to take a medical forfeit as Rutgers dropped from first place after the first round to seventh overall.
Cornell won the conference championship.
“It would have been nice to have probably 30 more points if [Mason’s] in it,” Goodale said.
Instead, the top-seeded 149-pounder watched most of the tournament from the sideline, where the rest of his team joined him for Winston’s championship bout.
And although he battled injuries for much of the past two years, it was fitting that only Winston remained.
“He took a chance on coming here, and he’s the face of the program, so to speak. When Scott Winston doesn’t do well, people are hard on this program,” said Goodale, his former Jackson Memorial High School coach. “That’s not fair on him. … If he gets rolling at the national tournament, he won’t remember this. No one will.”