Suriano has heightened expectations in first season with Rutgers

The move from Penn State to Rutgers is never an easy one. The Scarlet Knights do not like the Nittany Lions and vice versa. It is that simple. But that is the move sophomore Nick Suriano is making this year for the Rutgers wrestling team.

Suriano — a Paramus, New Jersey-native who is ranked No. 3 in the 125-pound weight class — transferred from Penn State at the end of last year to return home and wrestle for his home state of New Jersey.

"This is what I wanted, this is my home so I’m ready to light it up for New Jersey wrestling fans and fans all across the country who have followed me throughout my career," Suriano said.

And it would be an understatement to say the Knights are happy to have him too. Last year at Penn State, Suriano finished 16-3 as a true freshman with two of his three losses coming due to injury. His only other loss came against Iowa’s Thomas Gilman last season, who was the 2017 Big Ten champion and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) runner-up in his weight class.

Before that, Suriano produced arguably the greatest high school career in New Jersey history. He won four NJSIAA Individual State Championships at Bergen Catholic and finished his scholastic career a perfect 159-0.

“I have high expectations for myself, and I have a team of people that are hungry behind me,” Suriano said. “There are kids on this team that have high goals as well, and I think that our coaching staff is doing an awesome job preparing us for a tough season. I’m happy to be apart of this team and to see how far I can take it and how far we can go.”

Rutgers comes into the season ranked No. 12 — a ranking Suriano and much of the team thinks is too low.

But the Knights are eager to show their fans and the world what they can do and prove some people wrong — especially Suriano who will be making his homecoming.

“I’m ready to light it up,” he said. “I wanna blow the roof off the place. I wanna show them who I am on the mat. I’m back in Jersey, they saw me in high school but I feel as if I’ve progressed, I’ve stepped it up a notch and I think it’s gonna be exciting for the fans to see.”

Rutgers’ first match on Saturday, November 4 was supposed to take place at Yankee Stadium as part of the “Battle in the Bronx” doubleheader with the football team. But after the Yankees had to cancel due to its extended run in the postseason, the match is now scheduled at High Point Solutions Stadium.

The outdoor environment will be something new for Suriano to deal with as he has never wrestled outside before, but he does not seem too worried about it.

“It’s gonna be awesome,” Suriano said. “I’ve never competed outside so it’s gonna be a little different for me too but I think it’s gonna be amazing. I hope there’s thousands of fans there, I hope it’s loud, I hope it’s a cool event. I know a lot of people are coming out to watch me and to see Rutgers and see how we do and I think we’re gonna put on a display, I think we’re ready to go.”

With the season set to start and all the talk about preseason rankings, Suriano and the rest of the Knights are only focused on themselves and are ready to start the season.

“Yeah there’s a lot of names, there’s a lot of ranks, a lot of events but I don’t get caught up in all that because I’m my own person,” Suriano said. “I’m me and I gotta worry about me and if I’m at my best, I’m not concerned with them. I just wanna go out and live and compete how I do.”

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

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