Van Brill eager to feed off momentum from last year for Rutgers


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Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

After a breakout season last year for the Rutgers wrestling team, junior 165-pounder John Van Brill is ready to prove it was not a fluke.

Even after his impressive 24-13 overall record last season, which included an 11-4 record in dual matches as well as a 3-2 and 1-2 record in the Big Ten and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournaments, Van Brill still is not satisfied and is hungry for more this season.

“My personal expectation is to make the podium in the last three days of March,” Van Brill said, referring to the NCAA Tournament. “That’s definitely my number one priority over the season.”

Van Brill got a little closer to making that goal a reality last weekend against Maryland. In the season opener for the No. 12 Scarlet Knights (1-0, 1-0), Van Brill earned a convincing technical fall victory — blanking his opponent 15-0 in the process.

But this is just the beginning. According to Van Brill, he and the rest of the team are striving to achieve something even greater.

“For the team, expectation-wise, I mean you know there are a lot of great NCAA teams out there but we really wanna go out there and get a trophy,” Van Brill said. “That’s what we’re shooting for, that’s what we’re working for every day.”

And to Van Brill, that does not seem like too much of a long shot.

Despite Rutgers cracking the top 15 in the preseason rankings and heading into the season at No. 12 in the nation, Van Brill thinks people are selling him and the Knights short — something they intend to prove throughout the season.

“I don’t feel very good about (the ranking),” Van Brill said. “We wanna be more towards the five range. I think we have that type of talent, and we’re putting in that type of work. We’re really excited to prove that we’re better than No. 12, that’s for sure.”

And after a 27-9 thrashing over the Terrapins last weekend, Rutgers is headed in the right direction. Van Brill figures he will be a big part of that — as does his younger brother, redshirt freshman 141-pounder Michael Van Brill, whom John was impressed with over the weekend.

“(Head coach Scott) Goodale mentioned the one-two punch at 25 and 33, but I would like to say that that’s a three-punch combination because even though my brother took a loss (last weekend), he wrestled so well,” Van Brill said. “I couldn’t say enough about how his training is going and how he wrestled. He wrestled with a lot of fight and I was really impressed by him.”

The Knights and the Van Brill brothers are aiming their sights high and are poised to prove that Rutgers is a serious contender this season.

If anything, last weekend was just the preview of that.

“We’re training for teams like Iowa, UNC, Ohio State, Penn State,” Van Brill said. “We’re training to be at that level.”


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Robert Sanchez

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