Bonus points make difference in 2-1 trip
In a match filled with ranked wrestlers but no ranked-versus-ranked opponent bout, Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale thought Saturday’s dual-meet against Central Michigan might come down to bonus points.
Three Scarlet Knights fell one takedown shy of a major decision, while Central Michigan’s ninth-ranked Ben Bennett beat sophomore Daniel Seidenberg, 8-0, to pick up decisive bonus points in a 16-15 CMU victory at the Northeast Duals.
Rutgers won its first two duals against North Carolina, 33-9, and No. 24 Purdue, 28-15, at the Troy, N.Y., tournament, and then lost its final match to the Chippewas.
“If we learn from it, I’ll be good with it,” Goodale said. “If we don’t learn from it, I won’t be good with it. I thought we did all right with North Carolina and I thought we did really well with Purdue. That’s a Big Ten school and we really put it on those guys. I just wanted to finish it right. I knew it was going to be that type of match.”
Leading, 15-13, entering the final heavyweight bout, Rutgers (2-1) still had a chance to win with senior Daniel Hopkins facing 16th-ranked Peter Sturgeon.
Hopkins won by forfeit against UNC (0-7) and then watched as sophomore Carl Buchholz had to take a medical forfeit against Purdue (2-4) with an ankle injury that will keep him out two weeks. Hopkins gave up back points to Sturgeon in a 6-3 loss.
“He just lost to a bigger kid,” Goodale said. “I don’t know if he was better, just bigger.”
Senior Bill Ashnault (141 pounds) and juniors Dan Rinaldi (197 pounds) and Mario Mason (149 pounds) each won by at least 6-point decisions, falling a takedown shy of a major decision that would force a tie and ultimately give Rutgers the match.
A 7-1 decision for Ashnault still capped a strong day, which included a pin in 1:39 against Purdue’s Jake Fleckenstein and a loss to 14th-ranked Evan Henderson of UNC.
“I basically just put that loss behind me and came out and wrestled like I know how,” said Ashnault, who ranks 15th nationally. “As everybody knows it’s about the end of the year, so I’m going to fix those things up by the end of the year and be ready to go. [Henderson] just rode me the entire second period, which basically was the match.”
Ashnault had one of three pins on the day for Rutgers, with redshirt freshman Anthony Volpe delivering another at 157 pounds against the Tar Heels.
Volpe took down UNC’s Corey Mock, who was once ranked and qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, in 1:50.
“I really think of it this way: There’s not that much pressure on me because no one knows about me,” said Volpe, who wrestled in a dual-meet for Rutgers for the first time at the Northeast Duals. “I haven’t really done any college wrestling except for redshirting last year. I just tell myself to go out and wrestle the best I can.”
He followed the pin with a 4-3 decision against Purdue’s Tommy Churchard, but lost a 2-1 decision against Central Michigan’s 20th-ranked Donnie Corby on a stalling call.
In addition to the major decisions Rutgers missed against CMU (5-1), it was one of three one-point losses that could have changed the outcome for the Knights.
“I expect Scotty [Winston] and Mario [Mason] to take care of business, and [Gregory] Zannetti and Danny [Rinaldi], but I don’t want to have just five guys,” Goodale said. “I want to have all 10 guys with the same thing in mind, and that’s to dominate the world and score points. If they’re not doing that … it’s going to be tough all year long from a dual-meet standpoint. How do you grow from that loss? If you feel sorry for yourself and don’t get better because of it, it’s going to be a long dual-meet season.”