Makeshift lineup earns weekend split with Lehigh, Navy
Five minutes passed after the final whistle before the Rutgers wrestling team knew the result of its match Sunday against Navy. With a tied score after 10 bouts, official scorers had to add total match points to determine the victor.
The 24th-ranked Scarlet Knights outscored Navy, 37-33, to give them a 20-19 dual-meet victory at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, and when head coach Scott Goodale learned the news, he reacted with only a small clap.
The dual meets are secondary this season, and after a 26-9 loss at No. 15 Lehigh on Friday that Goodale called a “step back for this program,” Sunday’s performances improved.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Evan Brewer would win a dual meet for us or Anthony Perrotti would win us a dual meet,” Goodale said. “But here we are in late January and those guys are doing it for us. It was a good response.”
Sophomore 184-pounder Dan Seidenberg lost at Lehigh by injury default, so Brewer filled his spot Sunday in the lineup. The junior never wrestled a varsity match, but he withstood a barrage of attacks from 13th-ranked Luke Rebertus to limit the points.
Fifth-ranked 149-pounder Mario Mason sat all weekend with injury, so freshman Anthony Perrotti jumped from 141 to 149 pounds. He immediately shot at Navy’s Peyton Walsh and pinned the Midshipman in a season-best 13 seconds.
“That kid’s going to be exciting. He scores falls. He pins people,” Goodale said of Perrotti. “He hits that move quite a bit, but I didn’t think it would work at this level. He won a state title in New Jersey last year doing it, so we kid him about that move.”
Goodale said Mason probably could have wrestled, but the junior is one of Rutgers’ leading All-American candidates and Goodale wants him healthy in March.
The same goes for ninth-ranked 165-pounder Scott Winston, who joined Greg Zannetti as one of two Knights to win both their bouts this weekend.
Mason and senior 141-pounder Billy Ashnault block Perrotti from a full-time spot in the lineup. While the season is about remaining healthy for that pair, it is about experience for last year’s New Jersey high school state champion at 130 pounds.
The West Essex product is 14-7 in tournaments and 2-2 in dual meets.
“I’ve taken a lot out of this season so far,” Perrotti said. “Going to open tournaments, wrestling behind these great mentors. All of these kids are older than me and have done it before, so they’re showing me the ropes. They taught me a lot.”
Only Zannetti’s constant attacking matched Perrotti’s quick strike at the RAC.
The junior 174-pounder scored a 16-6 major decision against Navy’s James Mannier, two days removed from a 3-2 decision against Lehigh’s Nate Brown.
He scored seven takedowns against Mannier, letting him go after each one to attack again — part of what Goodale calls a “nervous habit” that he must constantly score.
“I want to make the match out of reach every time, no matter who I’m wrestling,” said Zannetti, who improved to 20-3 with only one dual meet loss.
Goodale wants Zannetti to pick better spots for his attacks, although it paid off Sunday with the total points tiebreaker.
Zannetti put up nearly half Rutgers’ points, but limiting Navy’s was equally important. Brewer did just that, as did sophomore Vincent Dellefave, who wrestled at 133 pounds but weighed in at his usual 125.
That should be the last time a 125-pounder makes the jump — junior Joey Langel did against Lehigh — because doctors cleared 133-pounder Michael DeMarco yesterday to continue wrestling with a lateral collateral ligament tear.
“I think these guys rally and fuel off of each other, and when you don’t have everybody, in the back of your mind it’s OK to lose because we’re probably not going to win,” Goodale said. “That’s what I felt their mindset was [against Lehigh], but you can’t have that. You have to take care of your individual battle.”