April 22, 2019 | 52° F

Pins fuel dominant win for Rutgers

Photo by Tian Li |

Redshirt freshman Sean McCabe pins Drexel at 125-pounds 2:38 into the Saturday’s dual, opening up a 6-0 score for the Knights. It was the second consecutive bonus-points win for McCabe following his major decision Feb. 15.

The Rutgers wrestling team had one goal in mind at the start of the season: have as many grapplers reach the podium as possible at the NCAA Tournament.

The Scarlet Knights arrived closer to that goal Friday night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

With Rutgers up, 27-6, entering the last bout of the evening, No. 14/14/17 (according to AWN/InterMat/W.I.N.) sophomore Billy Smith won by forfeit to end the dual competition. Drexel (7-14, 1-5) chose not to send a wrestler out to grapple at 285 pounds.

It gave Rutgers (11-5, 7-2) the 33-6 victory against the Dragons as Smith picked up his 10th straight victory.

There was a look of both confusion and disappointment on the face of Smith when he had his hand raised, en route to a 22-5 record to end the regular season. The Wantage, N.J., native also wrestled to 13 wins in dual competition on the season.

While Smith solidified his spot in the postseason, other wrestlers attempted to fulfill the goal of their head coach entering the last dual meet.

“It’s an EIWA match, so this is huge. [I told the team], ‘Don’t lose one you’re not supposed to lose,’” said head coach Scott Goodale last Tuesday. “We are probably going to be seeded ahead of these guys at almost every weight class. We can’t give up those seeds, so these are important matches.”

As the score indicated, most of the Knights accomplished that specific goal.

For the most part, Goodale was satisfied with Rutgers’ performance, but could not help but express some dissatisfaction.

“We got hurt at [1]57 [pounds],” he said after the meet. “That’s a big match and that’s the bottom line. We’re going in as a sixth seed, and we lost. Now we are going to be thrown into the hat, so that’s disappointing. Everybody else took care of business and did what they had to do, which is what I expected. It’s wrestling, so anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”

While the Knights performed up to Goodale’s expectations, two grapplers may have moved up in the EIWA seeding after their last outing.

Sophomore 149-pounder Ken Theobold won by fall 2:40 in after he gained a takedown halfway in. The fall put Rutgers up, 18-0.

It took only two minutes and 38 seconds for the Knights to gain a lead they would not relinquish, as redshirt freshman Sean McCabe opened with his third pin of the season.

After losing four matches in a row, the 125-pounder came away with bonus points his last two victories with a major decision last week against Lock Haven.

Those two victories have McCabe poised entering the EIWA tournament.

“I’m feeling great. My level of confidence is awesome right now,” McCabe said. “To go out and get bonus points for my team is awesome. I’m rolling right now, and I hope to keep it going [heading into the postseason].”

Goodale has stressed the importance of bonus points all year, and it was satisfying for him to see McCabe and Theobold take advantage.

“That’s it, McCabe was huge. You don’t see a lot of pins out of him,” Goodale said. “He found himself in a pinning combination and sees the fall. [It was] a great start to the night. Of course we know Kenny is pretty good in the top position. He’s very dangerous and when he gets you on your back, he does a good job.”

After a slow start to the season and coming off an injury early in the year, senior Vinnie Dellefave won by a 4-1 decision at 133 pounds.

The win does more for the Toms River, N.J., native then bolster his 10-8 record on the season.

“It’s pretty important to go in to the EIWAs feeling good. During this two week break, you definitely don’t want to have an L taste in your mouth,” Dellefave said. “Coming out and getting a win feels good, but it’s going to be a lot more fun getting wins at the EI[WA]s.”

Dellefave was on an emotional high after Rutgers won match easily for the first time since they won 31-6 Jan. 10 against American.

“I think we wrestled … we wrestled good!” Dellefave said as he turned around to look up at the RAC’s scoreboard.

He cracked a smile.

“We beat ‘em, 33-6. We went out there looking for points and we did that. We wrestled well,” Dellefave said. “It’s a little bittersweet [wrestling my last match at home], but everything has got to come to an end. Better to go out on a win than a loss.”

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

By Tyler Karalewich

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