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Rutgers places 12 competitors in West Point

Another weekend has gone by and another successful weekend has been completed for the Rutgers wrestling team, who left the Black Knight Invitational on Sunday afternoon with a slew of great finishes.

Head coach Scott Goodale’s squad has looked great so far this season, as the team looks to move up into the top-10 rankings as soon as it can.

“There were definitely some bright spots,” Goodale said. “We saw a lot of our young guys get some action which was good, we rested a bunch of our starters which we needed to do. Some guys had breakout days, so good for them and I’m excited.”

The Scarlet Knights (3-0, 1-0) saw 12 of their 14 competitors place at the invitational held in West Point, New York this past weekend, including two champions, two runners-up and two third-place finishers.

Sophomore Nick Suriano claimed the 125-pound title after four straight victories by a combined score of 46-7. Suriano registered two major decisions, a tech fall and his first pin as a Knight.

“I felt really good,” Suriano said. “I feel healthy and it felt great out there on the mat. I was looking to pressure, looking to score and I got the fall, so it felt great.”

The bout in West Point showed the depth in the team’s roster, as many of the starters did not compete and gained some needed rest.

Redshirt freshman Joseph Grello got out on the mat for the first time this season and managed to win the 174-pound title over fellow Knight Jordan Pagano, showing Rutgers’ strength at the weight. After falling behind to Pagano 2-1, Grello performed a takedown to get back into the match and to ultimately claim a 4-3 victory and the championship.

“We’ve got some really good kids at that weight,” Goodale said. “Grello’s been out of wrestling for a long time, so he finally got his feet wet and looked great, had a really good tournament.”

Although the results show strength in the weight class, it does raise some concerns on either Pagano’s health or just his overall mindset this season, as his dual record sits at 0-3.

Senior heavyweight Razohnn Gross also provided the Knights with a powerful performance, taking advantage of his first-round bye and capturing two victories to make his way into the title match. Gross inevitably was pinned by Lock Haven’s Thomas Haines in the championship round, as he would go on to be named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the entire tournament.

The 141-pounder Michael Van Brill and 197-pounder Kevin Mulligan, both redshirt freshmen, placed third in their respective weight classes. 

“We brought a good squad out, we were able to get a good feel of each other,” Suriano said. “Everyone was prepared, I think we wrestled well.”

First, Van Brill pulled off two key victories before falling in the semi-finals. He went on to face fellow Rutgers wrestler, sophomore Peter Lipari, in the consolation round, where Van Brill secured a pin and ended his day 3-1.

Mulligan followed suit for the Knights, going 3-1 on the day and capturing third place after defeating Rocco Caywood of Army and adding to Rutgers placements.

The Knights will take a much-needed break after three straight weeks of competitions heading into Thanksgiving and will return to action on the road for one more time against Lock Haven before kicking off their true home season opener at the Rutgers Athletic Center against Iowa on Dec. 8.

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

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