Rutgers travels to West Point for Army Invitational
With no dual meet on the line or team title at stake this weekend, the Rutgers wrestling team is gearing up to head to West Point, New York to partake in the Army Invitational starting Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
“Just an individual tournament,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “We won’t bring all of our guys, we’ll give some of our younger guys some good reps, see what they’re all about and again it’s a little bit less stressful.”
But the lack of stress doesn’t mean the match isn’t important for the No. 11 Scarlet Knights (3-0).
Goodale made it clear that he wants the athletes that do make the trip to compete and bring home some wins as these matches go a long way with regards to rating percentage index (RPI), winning percentage and all that good stuff that matters in November.
Goodale will take this time to rest some of his wrestlers who got banged up early in the season.
“The biggest thing right now is getting healthy,” Goodale said. “Believe it or not every weight is dinged up. (John) Van Brill suffered a bad ankle injury in that Virginia match and he wrestled for six and a half minutes on it when he shouldn’t have been wrestling, but he does it for our team.”
The grit of this Rutgers team is certainly not in question but the added rest can only help the team.
One Knight who isn’t injured, though, is Van Brill’s younger brother, redshirt freshman 141-pounder Michael Van Brill, who recorded his first two wins of the season last weekend.
“It feels pretty good to get that first win under my belt but you know as a college wrestler, I’m hoping to get a lot more of those,” Van Brill said.
Van Brill has proved himself valiantly, stepping in for injured Anthony Ashnault who was ranked No. 5 in the preseason.
Much of that early season success can be attributed to his older brother John, who has been Michael’s teammate all throughout his career.
“It feels great to have him especially at this level, you don’t really see that a lot and it definitely helps me as a wrestler grow having him by my side,” Van Brill said.
Another Rutgers wrestler making a name for himself is fifth-year senior and Oregon native 149-pounder Eleazar DeLuca.
DeLuca, who transferred from Northern Colorado before wrestling for two years at Clackamas Community College, spent most of last season injured and is finally beginning to show his value to the Knights as evidenced by his 3-0 start.
“It feels great,” DeLuca said. “It feels like it’s long overdue to be honest.”
Even though the season is still in its early stages, both Goodale and his players want to keep the momentum and good times rolling.
“That’s really it, just keep fighting for each other,” Goodale said. “Things are gonna happen but it’s a really, really neat family atmosphere right now and we just gotta keep on that path and just understand that it’s a long process.”
That process continues on Sunday.
“We have a lot of fire, our team,” DeLuca said.
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