Depleted lineup hosts ranked foe
It is a matter of frustration for Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale.
The competitor wants to run out his starting lineup for every dual-meet. The tactician and realist knows he cannot.
The Scarlet Knights will be shorthanded again this weekend, when they host 24th-ranked Hofstra today at the College Avenue Gym and West Virginia on Sunday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Wrestlers that will sit out at 133, 149 and 184 pounds could compete if pushed, but Goodale needs them healthy for March’s postseason tournaments.
“This is one of the biggest problems I have with this whole ‘It’s all about March’ thing,” Goodale said. “We’re holding guys out and trying to keep them healthy. I know it’s a dual meet, but I have to keep them wrestling. I want to push them, but I don’t want to. I want them healthy.”
Senior 133-pounder Mike DeMarco will remain out with a torn lateral collateral ligament, although earlier this week he was medically cleared to participate. Fifth-ranked junior 149-pounder Mario Mason, one of the wrestlers with the best chance of success in March, will continue to sit.
And sophomore 184-pounder Dan Seidenberg’s shoulder injury will keep him out against Hofstra and 11th-ranked Ben Clymer. He could return against WVU and 17th-ranked Matt Ryan, but it remains uncertain.
“I don’t like to lose anything and you don’t get a lot of matches, but you have to keep your thought process on what’s really, really important,” Goodale said. “That’s a really good EIWA and national tournament. I’m sticking to my plan.”
Goodale implemented that plan after three wrestlers favored to reach the podium and earn All-American honors — Mason, junior Scott Winston and since-graduated heavyweight D.J. Russo — fell short last season.
He started by giving Winston the entire summer off from wrestling to recover from a knee surgery the 165-pounder underwent days after the NCAA Tournament.
Winston missed some dual meets earlier this season after dislocating his shoulder, but he will wrestle all weekend.
That starts with a matchup against Hofstra’s 19th-ranked P.J. Gillespie, who finished eighth at last year’s national tournament to earn a podium spot as an All-American.
“It’s a big match and [Winston’s] excited about it,” Goodale said. “I haven’t seen that excitement out of him in a long time, so that’s good.”