Rutgers' marquee win establishes optimism for ranked opponents
In order to find the last time the Rutgers wrestling team has faced a top-25 opponent and won in a dual-meet, one would have to date all the way back to 2012-2013 wrestling season.
That year, the Scarlet Knights defeated then-No.14 Bloomsburg in an 18-16 comeback victory at the College Avenue Gym.
The wait for a win over another ranked opponent was short-lived for Rutgers — the Knights soundly defeated No. 19 Oklahoma 20-18 at the Northeast Duals this past weekend.
The win will help to establish momentum for the season, marking the first of many ranked wins for the Knights, they hope. For junior 157-pounder Anthony Perrotti, the victory over the Sooners was important, but the best is still to come for Rutgers.
“Any time the team goes 3-0 it’s a real good showing,” Perrotti said. “Beating Oklahoma for the first time — it was the first time ever — it’s huge for the team. It’s all about building, you keep building. There’s definitely more of those ranked wins to come. I know, and our coaches know, we didn’t wrestle to our potential against Oklahoma. It’s definitely a big win, but it’s part of the process building up to those three days in March.”
The match against one of the nation’s top wrestling programs, historically, and a win against a team that ranks fourth all-time with seven team national championships, gives Rutgers a gauge of how far the program has come.
According to redshirt freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault, the win against the first ranked opponent in two seasons proves that the Knights are where they want to be.
It also shows how far Rutgers can climb, Ashnault said.
“It’s awesome for the team knowing we didn’t even wrestle our best yet, and we were able to knock off [the 19th team in the country],” Ashnault said. “Going into the Big Ten, it just proves that we can hang with the top-notch teams, and we are right there with them. We don’t even have our best lineup in with [junior heavyweight Billy Smith] still out, and we are still figuring out our other weight classes.”
The match might have gone a different way for the Knights against the Sooners, but a timely fall by junior 184-pounder Hayden Hrymack sealed Rutgers’ win in the third to last bout, leaving the Knights enough cushion to ensure the dual-meet decision.
Hrymack took the mat with Rutgers leading, 14-9. He went to his move, flipped his man and ensured the pin for the six bonus points.
The win was big, Hrymack said, and even more important to help his teammates.
“It was an exciting time,” Hrymack said. “It’s nice to have the match locked up before there are still two more matches to wrestle. It takes the stress off of freshman heavyweight Wesley Bernard and allows our whole team to go out there and just compete.”
The win against a ranked opponent allows head coach Scott Goodale to reflect on previous years, specifically last season, while also being able to look forward to the Big Ten schedule.
“We didn’t get a ranked win last season,” Goodale said. “It seems like going back to last year, it’s somebody new every night that shows up — that was Hayden’s match. It was an unexpected pin and it’s a huge win. Any time you can beat Oklahoma — they have a great wrestling tradition, they have been really good for a long time — it’s definitely a good stepping stone for us. There’s more wins like that for us down the line, but it’s still big for the program.”
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