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Rutgers faces ranked opponents at Journeyman/Asics Northeast Duals

<p>Senior 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti will face some of the best wrestlers in his weight class Sunday at the Northeast Duals.</p>

Senior 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti will face some of the best wrestlers in his weight class Sunday at the Northeast Duals.

The Rutgers wrestling team has been looking forward to this Sunday’s meet for a long time.

The No. 17 Knights (3-0) travel to Troy, New York, to participate in the Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals. Sunday’s quad meet will be the first true test for Rutgers, which will be pitted against three nationally ranked opponents in No. 13 North Carolina, No. 22 Oklahoma and No. 25 Northern Iowa.

The Knights will face the tough competition that awaits them at the Northeast Duals after having competed in just one meet prior. In their lone meet of the season just less than two weeks ago at the Rutgers Duals, the Knights completely swept their competition and did not concede a single match. 

While it came at the hands of three lesser opponents, the grapplers in scarlet red singlets appeared to be in mid-season form as they put on a dominating display.

Rutgers knew it was going to have to come into this competitive, early-season quad meet while wrestling at the highest level, so the team began preparing for the meet in its offseason workouts.

“I’ve always said dual meets are really, really important to me,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “These specific dual meets are against nationally ranked programs, so knowing that, we prepared for it ... The early season schedule, the out-of-conference schedule, it’s a tough schedule, but we’ve had this in mind since July. We’re excited for it, staff's excited, this team’s excited for it, so we put a lot on it. So I know we’ll be prepared, I’m not worried about that. It’s too early in the year.”

The Northeast Duals will contain a number of matches that feature top-20 wrestlers. 

Throughout the day, the Knights will face nine wrestler ranked in the top 20, according to Intermat Wrestling. Of those nine individual matches, Rutgers will counter with a ranked wrestler of its own in eight of them. Three Knights will face multiple ranked opponents at the dual meet.

With that said, a couple of Rutgers wrestlers that are in new surroundings this season will have the opportunity to not only prove themselves, but make an early statement this Sunday.

Coming off of an impressive three-victory debut at the Rutgers Duals, redshirt freshman Anthony Giraldo will be tasked with competing in two of those top-20 matches. Giraldo, who is No. 19 in the 133-pound weight class, has matches against No. 1 Cody Brewer of Oklahoma and No. 13 Joey Ward of North Carolina.

After moving up to the 165-pound weight class coming into this season, senior Anthony Perrotti will have the toughest schedule of the day. Entering as the No. 9 wrestler in his weight class, Perrotti will face No. 3 Ethan Ramos of North Carolina, No. 4 Cooper Moore of Northern Iowa and No. 11 Clark Glass of Oklahoma.

Both Giraldo and Perrotti could shoot up the rankings in their respective weight classes if they can walk away unbeaten. But Perrotti is well aware that the Knights, along with himself, are going to have to be at their best on Sunday if they want to walk away with three victories.

“We feel ready,” Perrotti said. “All the training leading up to it, we feel good. It’s going to be a tough weekend with three tough matches so we gotta bring our A-game and if we bring anything else, we’re probably going to lose.”

In the 141-pound class reigning All-American No. 8 Anthony Ashnault will face off against No. 5 Evan Henderson from North Carolina. To round out the top-20 head-to-head matches, No. 8 Billy Smith will square off against No. 4 Blaize Cabell from Northern Iowa and No. 9 Ross Larson of Oklahoma.

As Rutgers begins a tough stretch in its schedule on Sunday, it is confident that its hard training will help its to start off with three big victories.

“I’m pretty confident in our team and our training and our habits,” said junior 157-pounder Richie Lewis. "(Coaches) Pritzloff, Goodie, Pollard and Leo, they’re really over training us. So we are ready for the adversity ahead.”

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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