Grapplers sweep winter dual-meet schedule
The Rutgers wrestling team kicked off another calendar year the only way it knows how — by winning.
And winning by a sizeable margin.
After competing and placing four grapplers at the Midlands Championships just after Christmas, the No. 14 Scarlet Knights rolled seven opponents in dual matches by a combined 244-36 score.
"We're wrestling good. We are doing what we have to do," said head coach Scott Goodale, whose team's 2011 victims include fellow EIWA Conference programs Harvard, Brown, Bucknell and Army.
The most satisfying win came last Friday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, where the Knights (16-1) dismantled Bucknell by a 33-3 score.
The Bison (3-8) defeated Rutgers, 26-12, last year in a match that will not vacate Goodale's memory any time soon.
"Coach was definitely upset with that loss last year," said sophomore Scott Winston. "I've been around him for eight years now, and I've never really heard him yell, but he was pretty fired up after that loss last year. We got our heads beaten in pretty good."
But it was Rutgers that provided the beatdown this time around, winning nine out of a possible 10 bouts, including a major decision at 133 pounds from junior Mike DeMarco and a pin at 184 pounds courtesy of sophomore Dan Rinaldi.
Although the outcome of the match from a team standpoint was never in danger of falling by the wayside, the match still served as a means for several individual accomplishments — namely the 149-pound bout between No. 5 Mario Mason and No. 4 Kevin LeValley of Bucknell.
The match remained close through three periods with Mason unable to connect on multiple takedown attempts. Tied at 1-1, the two grapplers entered a sudden death, one minute overtime period with the win going to the first man to score a takedown.
Mason lunged less than 20 seconds into overtime, and this time his aim was true. The sophomore brought down the previously undefeated LeValley and brought over 1,000 spectators to their feet.
"In overtime, it was just that I happened to get more pressure in on the shot instead of letting him pressure in on me," Mason said. "We were working on it this week in practice because I knew that he likes to hit the whizzer and put all that pressure on. If I finished a couple more, I would have broken that match open."
The win goes a long way for the Moorestown, N.J., native and Minnesota transfer, as he and LeValley battle for the No. 2 seed in the EIWA Tournament behind defending national champion Kyle Dake of Cornell.
"It's a big seed for him since the defending national champion is in his weight class," Goodale said. "He is probably a two seed right now, but he's got to keep wrestling."
The fourth-year coach believes Mason has what it takes to reach the top of not only the conference, but the country too.
"The sky's the limit for this kid," he said. "[Mason] can win the tournament. And when I say the tournament, I mean the big tournament."
Rutgers followed up the win over Bucknell by hosting Cleveland State, the United States Merchant Marines and Army the following day at the College Ave Gym. Even with most of the starters only wrestling against Army, the Knights laid the three programs to waste by scores of 47-0, 27-12 and 35-6, respectively.
Goodale likes the way his team is performing thus far in 2011, but the tests get much more challenging Friday, when the team hosts No. 3 Virginia Tech at the RAC.
"We're making the necessary gains, and now we're going to put it on the line against one of the best teams in the country," he said.