Rutgers prepares for challenging tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
For the last several weeks, the Rutgers wrestling team has had success against recent opponents in dual and quad meets. This weekend, the No. 25 Scarlet Knights (5-1) will match up against nationally-ranked individuals from top teams at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev.
The invitational will start Friday afternoon, with the first two championship rounds slated to start at noon. The championship quarterfinals will take place that evening.
Saturday will feature the championship semifinals, finals and consolation finals, starting at noon and finishing after 6 p.m.
The tournament features 115 nationally-ranked wrestlers. At least eight in each weight class are top-25 in the nation.
Rutgers has not competed in the Sin City since 2014. The team placed 11th and totaled 54 team points in the tournament.
Alumnus Anthony Perotti earned a third-place finish four years ago in the invitational, compiling a 5-1 record at 165 pounds.
No. 2 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault was also apart of the Knights’ team in 2014, as a redshirt freshman. He finished fourth at the 141-pound weight class and defeated two seeded opponents for a 4-2 record.
Ashnault is three wins shy of becoming the 17th wrestler on the Banks to join the 100-win club. He can attain this feat this weekend, as he is pre-seeded at No. 1 for the 149-pound weight class.
“It’s got that feel of a national tournament,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “It’s gotten better and better. It’s something we really wanted to do.”
One storyline this season has been No. 3 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano’s rapid transition into the 133-pound weight class, after wrestling at 125-pounds the previous two seasons. He bolsters an undefeated record through six bouts and has forced three falls.
This weekend’s tournament will certainly test Suriano, as it will be the first major tournament where he competes in his new weight class. In the 133-pound bracket, 14 out of the 20 wrestlers are ranked nationally.
Suriano is a pre-seed No. 2 in the 133-pound weight class. Six other Big Ten teams – Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue – have represented wrestlers in this weight class.
“It’s a huge test for (Suriano),” Goodale said. “He’s going to have to put together three or four really good matches. He’s excited for it and so are we.”
True freshman 165-pounder Stephan Glasgow has impressed this season and hopes to continue his recent success at the invitational. He has a 5-1 record on the season, with his only loss coming against Utah Valley’s Demetrius Romero, who was then ranked No. 16.
Glasgow has the potential to face Romero, who has risen to a No. 14 ranking, and avenge his lone season loss this weekend. Romero dropped a 12-2 major decision to Wisconsin’s No. 2 Evan Wick, last week.
“He gave me a good feel, showed me how the weight class really is,” Glasgow said. “It’s just helped me better myself now.”
The 165-pound weight class’ No. 1 seed, Michigan’s Logan Massa, is a redshirt junior and could potentially face Glasgow on the mat. In his freshman season, Massa won the Cliff Keen Invitational in 2016 and was an NCAA Qualifier last season.
Sophomore 125-pounder Shane Metzler has filled in for Suriano this season and has a 4-2 record. He tallied a major decision win against Centenary University at the Knights’ first home quad meet earlier this month.
Although he has only made one appearance this season, Goodale will opt for junior 141-pounder Peter Lipari to start in this weekend’s tournament over sophomore 141-pounder Michael Van Brill. Lipari captured a 6-2 decision in Rutgers’ win at Hofstra earlier in November.
Van Brill’s older brother, No. 16 graduate student 157-pounder John Van Brill, is pre-seeded at No. 6 for the 157-pound weight class. A two-time national qualifier, he is 3-2 on the season.
Fifth-year senior 184-pounder Jordan Pagano will be participating in one of his final tournaments of the season. After missing last season due to injury, he has posted a 3-1 record this season.
“We’ve had a good couple of weeks off, which is kind of what you get after the Big Ten,” Goodale said. “We’re looking forward, really from an individual standpoint, these big time matches that are going to happen.”
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