Rutgers prepares for strong undefeated team in Lock Haven Friday
As the fall semester winds down, a few things are clear — it is finally starting to get cold, final exams are coming up and the Rutgers wrestling team is as good as ever and still undefeated.
The Scarlet Knights (3-0, 1-0) will head into December without a loss on their heads yet, showing the strength and skill the program has, as Rutgers gets ready to face a small yet surprisingly strong Lock Haven.
Although the Bald Eagles have yet to have an individual dual this season, the team has had a few matches so far in the early season, including the Black Knight Invitational — an event attended by the Knights as well.
At the Invitational, Rutgers showed its dominance, as 12 of the 14 wrestlers brought to the event placed in the top 6, including two champions and two runners-up.
Sophomore 125-pounder Nick Suriano and freshman 174-pounder Joseph Grello secured individual championships for the Knights two Sundays ago in Troy, New York.
Suriano, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the 125-pound weight class, continues to do what he did at Penn State last year, but with added motivation of doing it for his home state. Suriano swept through his competition, rattling off four consecutive victories to secure his title.
As for Grello, this was his first showing on the mat this season, backing up fellow 174-pounder Jordan Pagano in duals. Ironically enough, Grello met the junior Pagano in the championship round of the event, showing that Rutgers is quite sound at that weight. Grello secured a tight come from behind 4-3 win over Pagano and the bragging rights to bring back home to Piscataway.
Senior heavyweight Razohnn Gross also finished as a runner-up, after he was pinned in the title round by Lock Haven's Thomas Haines, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
The Knights had freshmen 141-pounder Michael Van Brill and 197-pounder Kevin Mulligan finish in third place of their respective weight classes.
The strength in Rutgers definitely showed why they are one spot off from being amongst the top 10 teams in the country, especially since the team did not use the majority of its starters on the day.
But the showing from the Bald Eagles at the invitational was much less expected and a nice surprise for the hard-working team that is trying to claw its way into the top 25. Lock Haven ended its long day with a whopping four champions and two runners-up, an impressive feat for such a small school.
The Knights and Bald Eagles have faced each other six times so far in history, and although Lock Haven leads the series 4-2, it is Rutgers that has the slight of hand this go around, as not only is it the team ranked higher, but it has also won the past two matchups in 2008 and 2014.
The 2014 matchup rings most important for the Knights, as they still have members of that team participating in the current one as well. Rutgers had the upper hand that day and took away a key 18-16 victory over the Bald Eagles.
After traveling to Lock Haven, the Knights will make their much anticipated return to the Rutgers Athletic Center and their return to Big Ten play, as Iowa comes to visit Piscataway.
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