Rutgers finishes 11th in invite behind pair of placewinners
The Rutgers wrestling team had a few things in mind when it made the journey to Nevada this past weekend for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
Among the first of those goals was to size up against the competition and see where the Scarlet Knights rank among some of the top programs in the country.
The next objective for head coach Scott Goodale in Las Vegas was to size up some of the Knights’ anticipated wrestlers and top grapplers versus competition that Rutgers hadn’t faced yet this season.
That included redshirt freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault, sophomore 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio, junior 149-pounder Ken Theobold and junior 157-pounder Anthony Perrotti.
For the team aspect of the invitational, Rutgers finished in 11th place in the 39-team field, collecting 54 points and finishing three points out of the top-10, behind four Big Ten schools.
While Goodale was pleased with the finish against a field of some of the top teams in the nation, he acknowledged disappointment with some of the points left out there on the mat.
“We had a good tournament — we finished 11th and there are a lot of good schools there — and it’s one of the best tournaments in the country,” Goodale said. “We left a lot of points out there — there’s no doubt we could have scored more. But overall, it was good. All of our losses were against some of the top-ranked guys. It’s a really good experience moving forward.”
From an individual aspect, most of the Knights’ grapplers wanted to be at the top of the podium at the end of the competition and be the best in their weight class.
Ashnault said prior to the invitational that he was going to Las Vegas to win the tournament, but he fell short and finished fourth, losing to three-time national champion Logan Stieber of Ohio State and third-place finisher Nick Dardanes of Minnesota.
Perrotti shared similar aspirations of a top-finish tournament, but he finished third, winning the consolation bracket after being eliminated by Nebraska’s James Green in the championship slate.
Goodale realizes the top competition that Ashnault, Perrotti and the rest of the Rutgers’ wrestlers faced.
“Anthony Ashnault is wrestling the number one, pound-for-pound kid in this sport, a guy who is going for his fourth national title. That’s why we went out there — to see what Logan Stieber is all about,” Goodale said. “For Perrotti, the kid he lost to is the number two kid in the country.”
While some of the individuals fell short and the team landed in the top third, Goodale still thinks Rutgers can do better at the important tournaments that take place later this year.
With the Knights building for postseason competition, specifically the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Championships, this tournament plays largely in preparation for March with the ultimate goal of the season being to get as many Knights on the podium as possible.
“It’s really a good experience moving forward. Obviously, we left two hammers at home in Billy Smith and Andrew Campolattano,” Goodale said. “I think we are headed in the right direction as far as the team tournament goes. We could be in the thick of something like that. We could be in the thick of it come March. For Ashnault and Perrotti, those are huge barometers of where they need to be in March. Once we get the full lineup in, I think we are going to be really good.”
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