Rutgers faces fifth ranked team this season in Big Ten foe Nebraska
Coming off of its first Big Ten dual-competition victory, the Rutgers wrestling team’s task becomes a little bit harder.
After grappling five ranked opponents in their last six dual meets, the Scarlet Knights now travel to face No. 13 Nebraska on the road Sunday. It’s a team head coach Scott Goodale has plenty of respect for.
“They are a good team and they have a lot of ranked guys,” Goodale said of Nebraska. “Obviously they are ranked higher than us, but they are a similar type of team with a pretty good kid in every single weight — if not a nationally ranked kid, someone really good. It’s a huge challenge, but we look forward to that. It will be interesting and exciting to get out there.”
Although the Cornhuskers do not appear in the top-five rankings, when Rutgers has already faced faced No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 5 Penn State already this season, Goodale said they should not be overlooked.
They are comparable to every other talented Big Ten school, Goodale said. With as many as six ranked wrestlers for Nebraska, they pose a unique threat to a Knights lineup that also boasts just as many ranked grapplers.
“They are just as good as every other Big Ten team,” Goodale said. “They’re a type of program that’s really put themselves in position where they feel — probably because of No. 1 James Green, No. 1 Robert Kokesh and their 125-pounder is pretty good — that they can compete for a trophy at the National Tournament. I think they feel they have that type of firepower.”
To go along with starting the conference dual-meet season 1-4, Rutgers has been without junior 157-pounder Anthony Perrotti, who has been out of the lineup with an injury.
Perrotti has missed each bout since Jan. 11, and it’s allowed the redshirt freshman Dylan Painton to enter the lineup. After being nearly thrown into the lineup, Painton has lost by fall, major decision and tech fall.
Now, Perrotti feels ready to re-enter the lineup and help the Knights in the second half of the dual-meet season.
“I think so,” Perrotti said of a return against the Cornhuskers. “I feel pretty good right now, just getting back on the mat. I’m getting my timing back, but we are going to talk tomorrow and see where I’m at. I think I’m pretty good to go, though.”
While some might worry about the rankings of whom they’re going up against, that has never been the case for senior 165-pounder Nick Visicaro.
“That’s another thing that I have kind of always done since I got here — I never really cared about rankings,” Visicaro said. “Typically, unless you are maybe top-eight, I don’t even care who you are and I am just going out there to wrestle. Not that top-eight would matter, anyway. It’s just another guy in front of me.”
But for Perrotti, the chance to go up against another national contender leaves him with optimism. After all, it seems like every week the Knights get a chance to compete against the best in the nation.
That kind of matchup is something that Perrotti lives for.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity again getting to wrestle in this conference every week,” Perrotti said. “Week in and week out we are going to have these opportunities. We’re knocking on the door right now. We just beat Maryland, so everyone is hyped up to get that second win in a row and finish the season strong.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.