Rutgers sweeps Northeast Duals behind strength of bonus points
It wasn’t easy for the Rutgers wrestling team this past Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights were tasked with taking the bus ride up to Troy, New York, to compete in the Northeast Duals in the Knights’ second quad competition of the season.
Much like the Rutgers Duals earlier this season, Rutgers came out on top, sweeping the competition against Oklahoma, West Virginia and Buffalo for a 3-0 finish.
But this was not the Rutgers Duals in any sense.
The Knights (7-0) opened up competition against No. 19 Oklahoma, the first ranked opponent they have faced in the early season.
After trading decisions to start the dual, redshirt freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault exploded for bonus points in a 15-0 tech fall in the third bout.
Bonus points in the matchup at 184 pounds would again aid Rutgers. While only holding a slim 14-9 margin against Oklahoma, junior Hayden Hrymack took the mat against the Sooners’ Brooks Climmons.
Although the match entered the third period, Hrymack went to his attack, cradling and earning the win by fall to ensure Rutgers its first ranked dual victory of the season in a 20-18 win.
For head coach Scott Goodale, the bonus points played out huge for the Knights. The pin and tech fall from Hrymack and Ashnault, respectively, made the upset possible for Rutgers.
“I think Hayden was obviously huge with that fall. We didn’t realize how important it was until the end, knowing that [junior heavyweight Billy Smith] was unavailable and they are pretty good at heavyweight,” Goodale said. “He did a great job putting the kid on his back and he’s capable of doing those types of things – scoring bonus and winning by pins. And, obviously, Ashnault’s tech fall was the difference.”
The win against a top-20 team leaves a signature mark early on in the Knights’ season and does more for the program, Goodale said. It wasn’t just who they beat, Goodale said, but how they beat Oklahoma — a testament to Rutgers’ gritty style of wrestling.
“Beating a ranked opponent is pretty cool — it’s a big win for the program,” Goodale said. “Just having [sophomore 174-pounder Anthony Pafumi] go up a weight to 197 to fight is just what the team is all about — he kind of gives himself up there. It’s a great team win and every point mattered, but to beat really good teams and really good programs, you have to have those type of efforts. It was one of those matches where it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”
In the second bout against West Virginia, the Knights jumped out to a commanding 19-3 lead in the dual.
But a string of three tough matches kept the dual-competition closer than the Knights intended. A fall at 184 pounds followed by two decisions marked gave Rutgers the 19-16 dual win, but it left something to be desired for Goodale.
As with any dual-meet, Goodale can always find room for improvement with any match for the Knights — even if they went 3-0 on the weekend after an easier 27-9 win against Buffalo.
“To be honest, I don’t think it was our best wrestling,” Goodale said. “But that being said, we gutted it out and faced a little adversity. It wasn’t always pretty, but good teams find a way to win when it’s not pretty. I’m excited about that.”
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