Rutgers brings home 2 All-Americans
Suriano, DelVecchio end season on high notes
It was a historic weekend for the Rutgers wrestling team in Cleveland, Ohio, as the team produced a national finalist for the first time in program history, two All-Americans and placed a program-best 11th with 42.5 total team points at the NCAA Championships.
In the title bout at 125 pounds, in front of 19,776 fans, No. 4 seed sophomore Nick Suriano faced off against Iowa’s No. 3 seed Spencer Lee. But after three periods, Lee came out on top, 5-1.
“I'm blessed (to represent Rutgers on this stage),” Suriano said, according to scarletknights.com. “I'm blessed. I got beat, but I'm blessed. I'm a blessed man and I'm honored to take my loss like a man. I don't need to make excuses. I've been through some stuff the past month, but hats off to my opponent.”
Before his loss, Suriano breezed through his competition — defeating all four of his opponents, including Lehigh’s No. 1 seed Darian Cruz, 2-0, without surrendering a single point.
Suriano added a tech fall, pin and major decision to his résumé during the three-day event, recording almost half of the Scarlet Knights' team points (20.5).
“He's on the national stage with a block R, so it's great for Rutgers,” said head coach Scott Goodale.
But Suriano wasn’t the only Knight making waves at the Quicken Loans Arena over the weekend. Fifth-year senior 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio finished in sixth-place to earn an All-American status of his own.
After an opening round loss, DelVecchio flipped the switch and won his next five bouts, including back-to-back wins against Drexel’s No. 7 seed Austin DeSanto and Lehigh’s No. 6 seed Scott Parker.
DelVecchio became just the fourth wrestler in Rutgers history to go from unseeded to All-American.
Fifth-year senior 149-pounder Eleazar DeLuca impressed at his first national tournament as well. After dropping his first match, an unseeded DeLuca came back strong to win consecutive bouts before falling to Iowa’s No. 2 seed Brandon Sorensen, 13-0, to finish 2-2.
No. 15 seed junior 157-pounder John Van Brill also went 2-2 with back-to-back wins on the first day, but closed out the tournament with a loss to Ohio State’s No. 7 seed Micah Jordan via pinfall and a sudden-victory loss to Arizona State’s No. 4 seed Joshua Shields, 11-9.
No. 6 seed fifth-year senior 165-pounder Richie Lewis added three wins of his own, going 3-2 at his final national tournament. He suffered losses to Nebraska’s No. 11 seed Isaiah White, 3-1, in the second round and Lock Haven’s No. 9 seed Chance Marsteller, 4-2, in the round of 12.
Rounding out the Knights squad was No. 14 seed fifth-year senior Nicholas Gravina who broke even, finishing 2-2. After an opening round win, Gravina lost to Lehigh’s No. 3 seed Ryan Preisch, 3-2. He then went on to beat Penn’s Joe Heyob, 6-5, before getting bounced from the tournament with a 7-3 loss to Chattanooga’s No. 12 seed Bryce Carr.
“We wrestled really well here,” Goodale said. “We brought six guys here that all won a ton of matches. We have two All-Americans, but any coach will tell you we want more. We have to keep chasing this trophy at the national tournament and our staff is going to work extremely hard and our guys know where this thing is going. We'll get everyone on board and get everyone here next year.”
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