Van Brill, seniors shine for Rutgers in final weekend of season
Van Brill claims 2 ranked victories in 3 days
In its final weekend of the regular season, the Rutgers wrestling team certainly went the way it hoped it would, picking up two impressive victories over a three-day stretch.
The Scarlet Knights managed to end the season above .500 at 8-7, something that seemed uncertain last weekend as the team fell less than .500 for the first time in head coach Scott Goodale’s tenure running the program. But Rutgers made sure that didn’t happen with its big wins, and then some.
In the Knights’ wins over No. 18 Wisconsin and in-state rival Princeton, they combined to outscore the teams 52-19. Rutgers’ 24 overall team points against the Badgers was the highest point total for the team against a ranked opponent, while the 28 points versus the Tigers were the second-highest point total of the season, just behind the Knights 37 points they put up against Hofstra last month.
Here are three observations from the teams closeout weekend.
An impressive debut
With sophomore Nick Suriano — the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 125 pounds — seemingly sitting out the rest of the regular season after falling ill a couple of weeks back and championship season in sight, Goodale needed another answer for Rutgers at the starting weight of his lineup.
After his first try with freshman Luke Ecklof resulted in a 16-0 tech fall against Minnesota earlier in the month, Goodale made the switch to his classmate, Shane Metzler. Metzler put on quite the performance in his varsity debut, landing a reversal on Nebraska’s Johnny Jimenez after being down 2-0, and then proceeding to put him on his back for the pin, giving the Knights an early 6-0 lead.
Metzler also won his match at Princeton, going undefeated over the weekend by defeating Matteo DeVincenzo in overtime after a back-and-forth affair. Clearly, being able to work in practice with the No. 1 ranked wrestler in your weight class has its perks.
John Van Brill meant business
The junior 157-pounder out of Mullica Hill, New Jersey couldn’t have put together a better weekend, from any competitors viewpoint. Having lost his ranking from earlier in the season, Van Brill needed a big weekend to gain some momentum to his cause, especially with the championship season inching closer and closer as the days went by.
In two tough and hard fought matches, Van Brill managed to pick up two top-15 victories in the three-day span. First against the Badgers, Van Brill secured a 6-2 decision over No. 14 Andrew Crone, after pulling a reversal when the score was tied 2-2 and then claiming an escape and the riding time to get the win.
Back in New Jersey, Van Brill met No. 13 Michael D’Angelo and again put together an impressive performance. After initially being down 2-1, then up 3-2 after a takedown, Van Brill produced another reversal and claimed a 5-3 victory.
Coming off a loss on Senior Night at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) — where five seniors competed in their final home match of their careers — Rutgers needed to send off its guys the right way, and seemingly so, it did.
Fifth-year seniors No. 20 Scott DelVecchio and No. 7 Richie Lewis and senior Razohnn Gross each picked up two wins over the weekend, including a ranked victory for Lewis over the No. 11 wrestler at 165 pounds. No. 11 fifth-year senior 149-pounder Eleazar DeLuca lost his first matchup of the weekend to No. 12 Matthew Kolodzik of Wisconsin, but won the final dual match of his career against the Tigers.
The Knights will now put their full focus on the postseason, starting with the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Michigan starting on March 3.
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