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He led the attack early.Latching onto the leg in the opening minute, junior 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault secured the takedown and riding time beyond necessity.Never one to settle, it soon became near-fall after near-fall after near-fall, and the No. 1 overall seed could see a second Big Ten Championship around the corner.
Ten is always the goal.To send the entire eligible Rutgers wrestling team to St. Louis has been the goal since before the wrestling room was dusted off again in August.
At the beginning of the season, junior 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault had this to say.“We definitely have the talent to be putting four or five guys on the podium and to be national champs on the board,” he said.After the Rutgers wrestling team put two wrestlers through the gauntlet and onto the national stage as All-Americans last year — himself and then-fifth-year senior 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti — Ashnault held that with the absence of his teammate Perrotti, others would step up.With weeks to go before the NCAA Championships, another All-American may well in fact prop up, but one thing the 2016-2017 season has shown is that the Scarlet Knights have not found another Anthony Perrotti.
In almost every metric, the Rutgers wrestling team is looking up.Since their initial membership in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights have gone from 2-7 to 5-4 to 6-3 in the conference, breaking through national rankings and knocking off a few ranked foes.To boot, the Rutgers Athletic Center has been anything but a fortress for the Knights.
On a day during a season always looking toward the future, six seniors on the Rutgers wrestling team said their final goodbyes to the Rutgers Athletic Center.A picture at the center of the mat, and the seniors — 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas, 125-pounder Sean McCabe, 165-pounder Anthony Pafumi, 125-pounder Josh Patrick and 149-pounder Ken Theobold — took their seats on the bench.
Monday could not have started any better for Anthony Ashnault and the Rutgers wrestling team.Kicking off the second of two random draws this weekend, the junior 141-pounder silenced any doubters worried about his ability to bring his all in matches against other ranked opponents.
After leaving the Rutgers Athletic Center and trekking to Columbus, Ohio only hours after on Sunday, the Rutgers wrestling team knew two things.One was that there were only two dual meets separating it from tournament season, which meant that convention and confusion would have to be compromised for the other in order to find the right chemistry that makes the team tick.And that needed to happen fast.The other was that after a weekend in Michigan billowing in unmet expectations, the No. 14 Scarlet Knights needed to tap into one of those two in order to have success in Bloomington and St.
Mustering up only 11 individual match victories over two dual meets was not how head coach Scott Goodale and the rest of the Rutgers wrestling team envisioned last weekend.With that in mind, it comes as almost a shock that the Scarlet Knights (10-3, 4-2) left the Great Lake State with both a win and a loss, but the trip West didn’t go without consequences.Sliding down two spots in the national rankings to its lowest point of the season thus far, No. 14 Rutgers faces just as daunting of a challenge in the upcoming double dual-meet weekend as it did in Michigan.“We’ve traditionally done a really good job bouncing back,” Goodale said after the Knights’ 37-6 defeat to Penn State in the middle of January.Though he had hoped that would be the last time he would have to utter that phrase, the premise presented itself further last weekend.
Barriers, most would say, are there to be broken, but for the Rutgers wrestling team, smashing through the upper tier of Big Ten competition has always been a struggle.Permeating the minds of the grapplers as they departed for Michigan were all of the dual meets that got away.It was two months prior when then-No. 8 Cornell rocked the Scarlet Knights to the tune of 28-10 at “Grapple at the Garden” at Madison Square Garden, rounding out an event that should have been Rutgers’ for the taking.And less than a month removed from an uncharacteristically poor showing in State College, where the No. 2 Nittany Lions laid waste to the Knights, 37-6.“We got our butts handed to us, and it was good to see that,” said head coach Scott Goodale.
For head coach Scott Goodale, the premise is simple enough: Wrestle the best guys.This pertains to Oregon State, Purdue and all of the teams with no business wrestling a team of Rutgers’ caliber.
Since the inception of Big Ten play for Rutgers athletics a few years ago, the Rutgers wrestling team has served as a beacon of hope and light among an otherwise dim setting.The Scarlet Knights have constantly found themselves playing second, third and sometimes 14th fiddle to their conference rivals in other sports.
Down 7-0, John Van Brill reverses, then mounts. In a swift few seconds, the whistle blows and he rises.
Rutgers may be a wrestling school, but Penn State can do them one better. Or twenty.The Rutgers wrestling team left State College, Pennsylvania winless in its 20th attempt against the No. 2 Nittany Lions (7-0, 3-0) Friday, as the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 2-1) dropped their first Big Ten dual meet, 37-6.Boasting four ranked wrestlers compared to Penn State’s nine, the Knights faced a tall task from the starting whistle, and the opening match did nothing to set head coach Scott Goodale at ease.Though freshman 125-pounder Brandon Paetzell enjoyed a last-second victory against fellow newcomer Travis Piotrowski of Illinois last weekend, he couldn’t find the same fortune Friday night, as he fell to No. 3 Nick Suriano to the tune of 16-2, sending the Lions out to a 4-0 lead.Junior 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio and George Carpenter took the mat next in what was one of the few unranked matches of the evening.
It was the home opener, Alumni Night and the Razohnn Gross show all in one night, as the No. 11 Rutgers wrestling team defeated No. 12 Illinois, 19-17, on the back of junior Razohnn Gross’ clinching decision at the final whistle.The entire night rode on the heavyweight bout, as Gross assumed the neutral versus Deuce Rachal of Illinois.
Wrestling is as much a team sport as any other.In no other sport does bearing the burden of one’s teammates’ mistakes become so pronounced or securing extra points so important so that those wrestling afterward don’t have to.Such was the case Sunday afternoon, when the Rutgers wrestling team bussed southward to College Park to defeat Maryland (2-5, 0-1), 21-13, in the first Big Ten bout of the season.Leading the charge for the Scarlet Knights (6-1, 1-1) was freshman 125-pounder Brandon Paetzell and junior 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio, who scored identical major decisions to open the scoring and carry an 8-0 lead into the third match.Paetzell and DelVecchio, who have taken back seats to senior Sean McCabe and junior Tyson Dippery in dual meets so far this campaign, affirmed head coach Scott Goodale’s decision to start them Sunday, giving the Knights some early breathing room.No. 6 Anthony Ashnault strapped on his headgear for a bout with Billy Rappo, in what was a bounceback victory for Ashnault after a loss to No. 5 Kevin Jack of NC State at the Journeymen Tussle, for which they swapped spots afterward.
Due to injuries along with untimely and unsightly losses, competitors on the Rutgers wrestling team have fallen in national rankings and a few have even dropped off the list entirely.John Van Brill is not one of them.Fresh off of two ranked wins this past weekend, the sophomore from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, made his mark on the Intermat top-25 rankings, featuring at No. 20 in the 157-pound division, as well as coming in at No. 11 in The Open Mat's rankings.“(It is) cool to be recognized for some hard work, but (I) just want to keep climbing, that’s my whole goal,” Van Brill said.His teammate, senior Richie Lewis, started the season at No. 6 in the weight class, but his ranking soon dropped after missing matches due to injury.“I train with Van Brill a lot, and Van Brill is pretty much my main partner in the room during weight cuts, during those hard periods,” Lewis said.
The last time the Rutgers wrestling team prepared for a dual meet was three weeks ago when the Scarlet Knights geared up for a historic Battle at the Birthplace against Princeton three weeks ago.In their toughest affair up to that point, the Knights cleaned up with a 19-16 victory over their in-state rivals.But since then, Rutgers has found itself shrouded in tournaments and double-dual meets and it has been a while since the team has been able to do battle against another program, matching its best with the opponent’s best.“I don’t think it’ll be an issue, trying to switch over from tournament and double dual meet style to dual meet,” said sophomore 157-pounder John Van Brill, who recently crept into the national rankings at No. 20 this week.
On a day where head coach Scott Goodale was hoping to set his starting lineup into stone, the Rutgers wrestling team gave him plenty to work with.The Scarlet Knights left the 2016 Journeymen Tussle with 10 of its 14 competitors placing, with 165-pounder redshirt freshman Willie Scott finishing in first place in his division.
After a 28-10 loss to No. 8 Cornell at last weekend’s Grapple at the Garden at Madison Square Garden,the No. 12 Scarlet Knights (5-1) look to redeem themselves on Sunday at the 2016 Journeymen Tussle at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.