Rutgers drops dual-meet to No.12 Nebraska
Against the likes of Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State, there was one constant for the Rutgers wrestling team in its losses: The top portion of the dual-meet lineup has been the most productive.
And the highlight of the top half of the Scarlet Knights’ lineup has been redshirt-freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault.
But that changed Sunday against No. 12 Nebraska when Rutgers fell, 26-9, when No. 5 Ashnault was a part of a three-match losing skid to start the dual-meet.
Ashnault and sophomore 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio both led their bouts but ultimately fell to grapplers who were ranked lower than them.
“One hundred thirty-three pounds and 141 pounds were matches that we really wanted,” Goodale said. “In a dual meet, those are spots we feel we can get — they are two of our better guys. We know Ashnault is going to be up against nationally ranked guys week in and week out. When you lose those, that hurts, but we are losing those in the third period, which that can’t happen.”
The high point for the Knights was the matchup at 149-pounds with junior Ken Theobold. Theobold earned a takedown early and followed it up with a move he said he worked on in the week of practice leading up.
Theobold worked the tilt and collected the win by fall over Justin Arthur 1:27 into the bout. Goodale called the win by Theobold huge and good revenge after not having matches go his way against Arthur in the past.
“That was a big win for Kenny. He lost to that guy twice and lost to him at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational this season,” Goodale said. “It was good to get that one back because it helps with seeding. It was really something that we needed after kind of losing the ones we wanted.”
While Theobold won after three-straight losses in the dual, Rutgers dropped its next five bouts before junior heavyweight Billy Smith took the mat.
Smith and No. 17 Collin Jensen faced off at 285 pounds and brought the match to a 3-3 mark after Smith collected a reversal before the two needed sudden victory to decide the bout at the end of the third period.
Jensen and Smith scrapped a few seconds into the sudden victory period before Smith shot for Jensen’s legs and collected the takedown to end the bout and the dual-meet on a high note for the Knights.
Goodale called the win huge for Smith not only to end the dual on a high note, but for Smith to gain some confidence moving forward in the season after losing four out of his last five bouts.
“Billy needed that win — good for him. He’s been on the losing end of three overtime losses, and he needed that against a kid who beat him last year,” Goodale said. “It wasn’t that his technique wasn’t great, it was just fighting through it, getting his hips in and gutting it out. We all need to be more aggressive, as a team, and he waited until overtime to do it.”
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