Knights senior establishes tone
With sweat dripping down his face on the elliptical, Joey Langel was feeling the effects from the Rutgers wrestling team’s appearance Sunday at the Nittany Lion Open.
“A little sore from the weekend,” he said, “but overall it was a pretty good.”
The senior 125-pounder went 5-2 in his weight class, good for a sixth-place finish in the Scarlet Knights’ second open tournament of the season.
Tournaments give potential NCAA qualifiers like Langel a chance to build up their body of work, but he will serve a different role in the Knights’ second dual meet of the season Saturday at home against Rider and Princeton.
At 125 pounds, Langel is usually the first wrestler to take the mat, allowing him to set the tone for the rest of his teammates.
When it comes to leading off, he could not agree more.
“I think it does, especially in big matches,” Langel said. “When you get in big matches and get that crowd into it, it is a huge momentum boost. When you come on that mat and the crowd is already cheering for you, it gives you so much more confidence going forward.”
Head coach Scott Goodale also sees the energy Langel puts into his role and believes the way he wrestles on the mat is a reason for his success thus far.
Langel is known around the program as a “funker” when it comes to his technique, a role that involves him forcing opponents into positions in which they cannot succeed.
The unorthodox approach is an edge for Langel in both achieving points for the team and retaining momentum and energy on the mat, Goodale said.
“It is a unique style, and he is very aggressive with it,” Goodale said. “He is never out of a match because he does some wild things. He has lit this place up for four years, and it is just exciting to watch.”
What Langel puts into his matches reflects the way he has approached the mat his whole career, something Goodale said is different from a majority of the team.
While wrestling is more of an individual sport, Langel’s performance hinges on whether it benefits the team.
The approach is what Goodale respects most about him.
“He is unique because he does not put a lot of stock into anything but the team, so you’re not going to have him come in here and say, ‘I’m going to be a national champ,’” Goodale said. “That is not his goal. His goal is to have fun and enjoy wrestling and put on a show.”
Langel also had to fight through injuries the past two seasons, including surgery on his right shoulder last summer and a sprained MCL that limited him during the beginning of this season.
Returning to full health, he can now focus on using his “funker” style to energize teammates early on in matches.
As long as it affords the team success, he is all for it.
“It is nice going out in the first match,” Langel said. “You kind of have no weight on your shoulders. You just have to go out there and wrestle, and that is when I do my best: when I go out there and have fun.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.