True freshmen shine in Oregon State, Purdue victories
A lot can change over a weekend in collegiate wrestling, and this past weekend was one for change for the Rutgers wrestling team. The old made way for the new, and the Scarlet Knights brought a lot of “new” to the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) over the weekend.
No. 11 Rutgers (9-2, 3-1) enjoyed a brief reprieve from the Big Ten before returning to conference play, defeating Oregon State (2-5, 0-0), 38-3, and Purdue (8-3, 3-2), 27-9, behind two of the most dominant weekends by true freshmen this season.
Rookie 125-pounder Brandon Paetzell secured his first collegiate fall to open the meet while teammate 197-pounder Matthew Correnti knocked off No. 18 Corey Griego.
"That’s my whole thing, to get the crowd fired up, to start early," Paetzell said. "Score early, score often."
In the mold of his weight mate 125-pounder Sean McCabe, Paetzell wasted no time mounting his attack, scoring a takedown within the opening seconds en route to a fall just a bit later.
The Phillipsburg, New Jersey, native has seen his stock rise since his buzzer-beating decision against No. 12 Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski.
"It started at 25," said head coach Scott Goodale. "That’s a true freshman coming against a kid who has beaten three of our guys the past couple of years. So that was huge for Paetzell to come out and do what he did. That gives momentum, that gives you energy, that gives you a lot. And that’s what you need out of that 125 spot."
Junior 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio had carried some notable wins into the weekend’s matchups against the Beavers’ Joey Palmer and Boilermakers’ Luke Welch and added one more soon after. Though DelVecchio held a 6-2 edge in the Palmer match, he was unable to collect one over Welch, falling in sudden victory to a 5-4 line after a last-second reversal.
Next on the docket was No. 6 Anthony Ashnault to battle 141-pounders Jack Hathaway and Kyle Ayersman in matches that have gone Ashnault’s way in the past. Ashnault did the same over the weekend, earning 15-2 and 10-0 major decisions, respectively.
Following was No. 14 Ken Theobold, who racked up a pair of technical falls, a 17-1 rout over No. 19 Joey Delgado on Friday and a 15-0 command over Nate Limmex on Sunday.
At 157 pounds, sophomore John Van Brill has become a stalwart, putting down four ranked opponents while claiming his own spot at No. 18.
Van Brill won his match over Alex Griffin due to an injury on the Boilermaker’s behalf.
Against Oregon State, Goodale opted for 165-pounder Anthony Pafumi over Willie Scott to get the fifth-year senior mat time. Pafumi sought more than mat time, rolling over the Beavers’ Rodney Williams to earn his first dual meet match win, which clinched the Knights’ victory over the West Coast side.
Rutgers continued to pile on the pressure, as fifth-year senior 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas earned an 18-1 technical fall.
Junior 184-pounder Nicholas Gravina added to the scoreline in the next bout, pinning Bob Coleman in the dying moments of the match.
"We really wanted to come back hard and show everybody we are attackers and good wrestlers," Gravina said.
At 197 pounds, Correnti enjoyed the biggest win of his young career, upsetting Griego, 3-2, to continue the Knights’ dominance over Oregon State.
To round out both events was heavyweight Razohnn Gross.
The junior squared off against Cody Crawford of Oregon State on Friday, unable afford his team the shutout, losing out by a score of 4-2. But Gross bounced back against Purdue’s Tyler Kral, gaining a 4-3 sudden victory decision.
For Rutgers, it was a tale of two wildly different dual meets, as the home side commanded Oregon State to victory Friday, following that up with a testing win on Sunday.
Goodale commends his team as one that has "traditionally done a good job bouncing back," and holds that it was its poise that allowed the Knights to respond in volumes.
"That’s the pace, the intensity, the focus you have to wrestle with to compete at the highest level," Goodale said. "That’s what we’re trying to preach."