Rutgers' 10 wrestlers gear up for Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis
This weekend, the Rutgers wrestling team will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota to compete in the 2019 Big Ten Championships. All 10 wrestlers will compete for the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (12-6, 5-4) each looking to punch their ticket to the national tournament in Pittsburgh, which is in two weeks.
Rutgers has one top-seeded wrestler, and that of course is No. 1 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault. This season, Ashnault has had a perfect 23-0 record and is the top-ranked wrestler in the country in his weight class.
Ashnault is a previous two-time Big Ten champion, and will look to become the Knights’ first-ever three-time conference champion with a title this weekend. In its entire history, Rutgers has only one other three-time conference champion: Emil Perona, who secured three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) individual titles from 1950-1952.
If Ashnault qualifies for the national tournament, he’ll become the fifth four-time national tournament qualifier in the Knights' program history. Joining him in the feat could also be No. 9 graduate student 184-pounder Nick Gravina, who will look to also qualify for the fourth time in his career this weekend.
Another feat Ashnault can accomplish this weekend is tying Mike McHugh (1986-1989) for the most wins in Rutgers program history at 117. He is just three wins shy of reaching the mark.
One of the most difficult weight classes at the tournament will be the 133-pound weight class. No. 3 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano will look to avenge earlier losses to the two top seeds, No. 1 Stevan Micic of Michigan and No. 2 Austin DeSanto of Iowa.
There are four Knights who will be competing in the Big Ten Championships for the first time in their careers. No. 9 seed junior 141-pounder Peter Lipari, No. 13 seed sophomore 125-pounder Shane Metzler, No. 12 true freshman 165-pounder Stephan Glasgow and unseeded junior heavyweight Christian Colucci.
If Rutgers can qualify five or more wrestlers to the national tournament, it will be the fifth consecutive season under head coach Scott Goodale that it has sent at least five representatives to that tournament.
Every year, the Big Ten Championships showcase the best wrestlers in the country ahead of the national tournament, as it is considered the premier wrestling conference in the entire country.
This year is no different, as 5 of the top 10 seeds will look to defend a Big Ten title from last season. Also, Penn State leads the field with four top-seeded wrestlers.
Expect the Knights to push through at least five wrestlers to continue their streak of representation at the national tournament.
Fans should expect Ashnault and Suriano to advance to the national tournament with a possibility of sending Gravina, No. 10 graduate student 157-pounder John Van Brill , Lipari and No. 9 sophomore 174-pounder Joseph Grello. Of course, others not mentioned can qualify, but their road to Pittsburgh is a tough one starting in Minneapolis.
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