Rutgers' Perrotti excites over chance at non-conference foe in Navy
For football fans, Super Bowl weekend is one of the most anticipated and exciting parts of the football season.
However, this weekend isn’t going to be upbeat for the Rutgers wrestling team because the Patriots play the Seahawks. It’s going to be different because of who’s coming to New Brunswick and the College Avenue Gym.
A pair of teams will travel to New Jersey this weekend to face the Scarlet Knights in the College Ave Gymnasium, otherwise known as the Barn, and that leaves more than one grappler optimistic.
Navy (3-3) will face No. 22 Rutgers Saturday afternoon before the No. 4 Buckeyes (9-3) arrive on Super Bowl Sunday.
While one would think junior 197-pounder Andrew Campolattano would be excited to face his former team, the Bound Brook, New Jersey, native has few friends still on the team by his own admission. He said he doesn’t feel any added motivation.
“It’s just really another match, for me,” Campolattano said. “It’s another match against a great team. I think we just have to go out and compete hard at every weight. It doesn’t really have any effect on me.”
While Campolattano isn’t that excited for this weekend, other Rutgers grapplers are.
One Knight is left salivating over the potential matchup against the Midshipmen — more so than he would any other year.
“We were saying the other day how we used to have a tough time with Navy, and now everyone is licking their chops,” said junior Anthony Perrotti. “You have another opponent outside of the Big Ten and you get a little more pumped up.”
Navy is a team that should not be taken lightly, and as with any military academy, head coach Scott Goodale knows they are competitive.
It seems that facing a non-conference opponent leaves some Knights feeling a sense of relief after going against the gauntlet of six-straight Big Ten opponents in the month of January.
“Navy always wrestles hard,” Goodale said. “They are in great shape all the time, like all military schools. They have discipline, they are always in great shape and that represents a problem. We’re going to have to wrestle really, really hard.”
While going up against two teams in two straight days, on Saturday and Sunday, might be difficult and perceived as a nightmare for the Knights, Goodale thinks it will help Rutgers.
Facing a gritty Navy team and a top-four program in Ohio State in consecutive days, also believes it could be the best test to see what his team is made of.
“It’s good to put these matches back-to-back — it’s a good simulation for the national tournament,” Goodale said. “The Big Ten Tournament has back-to-back weigh-ins as well. [The two matches this weekend are] two good opportunities to wrestle back at home.”
When Rutgers normally faces Big Ten opponents, they are boosted to compete at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
But Ohio State will be the first Big Ten school to compete at the Barn in Rutgers inaugural season in its new conference.
“It’s going to be awesome, the Barn is a little bit smaller than the RAC, so it will be packed and it’s going to be loud,” said sophomore 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always a good time at the Barn, and I’m pretty pumped to wrestle in it. I’m ready to go, and I’m pretty pumped up.”
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