No. 13 Rutgers sweeps three opponents in season opener at RAC
The Rutgers wrestling team opened up the 2018-19 season with three lopsided wins, as it hosted the Rutgers Quad Meet Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights (3-0) defeated Centenary 48-3, Fresno State 30-6 and Johnson & Wales 38-5 to cap off the day.
“We got a lot out of today from the fact that it was our first time down a weight, how we prepared, an hour weigh in, warm up match," said head coach Scott Goodale. "It was good all around for our guys to see where they’re at.”
Rutgers racked up a total 10 pins on the day against its non-conference opponents.
Scoring on falls is a philosophy that Goodale promotes to encourage an aggressive wrestling style and is even more important in a home atmosphere to energize the crowd.
“We’ve emphasized it for sure," Goodale said. "People love falls. They don’t get too fired up about a decision, they wanna see you put guys on their back and pin people and that’s kind of really been our talks all spring, all summer and all fall.”
The opener marked the of return No. 2 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault to the RAC for his sixth year of eligibility after missing all of last season to injury.
Ashnault, a three-time All-American, wasted no time putting his return to form on display. Against Centenary’s Logan Long, he recorded his first pin of the season only 9 seconds into the match, the quickest pin of his collegiate career.
“I wanted to get my motor going and get some momentum going into the next match, and when I got that pin I just felt like it was gonna be a good year,” Ashnault said. “For college, that was my fastest pin, but when I was a little kid once I got a pin in like 6 seconds.”
In his first match back from injury and his last opener at the RAC, Ashnault went on to run the table with three wins on the day, including a 6-0 decision over the Bulldog's NCAA qualifier Khristian Olivas.
He put his opponent on his back with 2:29 left in the first period, resulting in a fall that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“He’s extremely happy to be back wrestling, he loves these fans and he’s a Rutgers guy," Goodale said. "You could tell when he took the mat that this crowd loves Anthony Ashnault.”
The Knights' other national championship contender, No. 2 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano, also picked up three wins in his first match in the 133 weight class.
He contributed a fall in Rutgers' 48-3 victory over the Cyclones. The team combined for a total of three pins against the in-state program.
“I honestly didn’t even realize it was 133. It looked like the same old Nick Suriano to me," Goodale said. "He’ll get tested down the road but as far as today goes, same old Nick Suriano.”
In addition to Ashnault and Suriano, the Knights had some noteworthy performances from several wrestlers in their first matches.
Freshman 165-pounder Stephan Glasgow won all three of his decisions in his first collegiate event. Glasgow recorded his first pin in his first match against Centenary’s Haakon Mathewson, and defeated Johnson & Wales’ Nick Munsch 18-7 in his final and third win of the day.
“The two kids that I basically dominated felt more like high school kids," Glasgow said. "The second match was a true college wrestler and it showed me just how tight and how hard a single takedown can be.”
Glasgow’s second match came against Fresno State's Brandon Martino. Against Martino, he just edged out his second victory running out the clock in the third round to clinch a 3-2 decision.
“I wanted another takedown but at that point you’re up by one, you can’t just go out and keep shooting and stuff like that. I just had to be smart and keep good position,” Glasgow said.
Junior heavyweight (285-pounder) Christian Colucci made his Rutgers debut, as well. The Lehigh transfer went 1-1 on the day but came within seconds of clinching a second victory in a nine-round battle against the 17th ranked heavyweight in the country in Fresno State’s AJ Nevills.
“I don’t even care about the nine rounds. I thought that I was gonna beat him. It doesn’t really change my confidence," Colucci said. "I’m right there with the best wrestlers in the country I think personally and I know my coaches think so also."
He had a chance to put Nevills away in the final seconds of the seventh round. But a last second escape tied the match at two. Colucci would ultimately lose the decision in the final two rounds, the longest match of Saturday’s meet.
“If he rides for 1 more second, he wins believe it or not. If he rides for 1 more second, it forces the kid to let him go, the kid can’t win … We just let him go in that second overtime. He was worried about getting called for stalling. Get through him, take him down one time from behind, mat return him once, you win the match,” Goodale said.
The three wins give Goodale his 164th career win at the helm. He is two victories shy of passing John Sacchi, former head coach, for the most wins in the program's history.
The Knights will now look to next Saturday’s meet in Albany, N.Y. as they will face Utah Valley and Appalachian State.
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