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Suriano becomes first unanimous No. 1 wrestler for Rutgers

No. 1 Suriano is 18-0 so far this season

For the first time in program history, the No. 16 Rutgers wrestling team has a unanimous No. 1 ranked athlete in its locker room, as sophomore 125-pounder Nick Suriano has moved up one spot to No. 1 in the nation.

Suriano, who spent the first half of the season ranked at No. 2, now sits at the top spot of the ranking boards, including InterMat Wrestling and FloWrestling. Suriano is on a roll this season, currently sitting undefeated overall at 18-0 — 9-0 in duals — and has defeated five other wrestlers that currently sit on the InterMat ranked list.

“I have high expectations for myself,” Suriano said. “To me, it’s just another match … I’m ready to see how far I can take it.”

The No. 1 spot was up for grabs after this weekend, when then-No.1 Nathan Tomasello from Ohio State was upset by then No. 6 Spencer Lee from Iowa, in the teams' dual last Sunday. Tomasello now sits at No. 4, while Lee has now risen above him and sits at No. 3.

At just one meet, Suriano defeated then-No.10 Ronnie Bresser from Oregon State, then-No. 12 Sebastian Rivera from Northwestern and then No.18 Zeke Moisey, to become the first ever Knight to capture a Midlands Championship title.

With a team-high total of 249 individual points compared to 61 against him, Suriano has contributed 38 team points to the Scarlet Knights (5-4, 1-3) so far this season.

Suriano is midway through his first year of collegiate wrestling in New Jersey, after transferring to Rutgers from Penn State, which is currently ranked as the No. 1 team in the country. 

“This is what I wanted,” Suriano said at the team introduction press conference back in October. “This is my home, so I’m ready to light it up for New Jersey wrestling fans and fans all across the country that have followed me throughout my career.”

Last year with the Nittany Lions, Suriano was an NCAA qualifier as a true freshman after going 16-3 in the regular season, including 12-2 in duals and 8-1 in the Big Ten. Two of Suriano’s losses came from injury, while the other was to Iowa’s Thomas Gilman, who was the 2017 Big Ten Champion and NCAA runner-up at 125 pounds.

Overall this season, the Paramus, New Jersey native and former Bergen Catholic superstar — who went a perfect 159-0 during his high school career — has secured seven tech falls, five major decisions, five decisions and a pin in his first year on the Banks.

Suriano’s high school career was nothing short of perfection, going undefeated, while also winning four NJSIAA state championships. Suriano is also just the fourth four-time state champion New Jersey has produced, and is the only wrestler in state history to match his four individual titles with four team titles. 

The timing of Suriano’s jump to No. 1 could not have come at a better time, as he and the rest of the Knights will host Penn State at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Sunday afternoon in front of a sold out crowd.

After Sunday’s match, Suriano and Rutgers only have five more matches remaining — all duals, four of which are conference matches — before the 2018 Big Ten Championships kick off on March 3 in East Lansing, Michigan. 

Some people have suggested that Suriano should remain at No. 2 once Tomasello fell on Sunday, and that Darian Cruz from Lehigh —who was then No. 3 and is now No. 2 under Suriano — should be No. 1, considering he won the NCAA title at 125 pounds last season.

Suriano will finally get to prove himself to whatever critics he might have at the 2018 NCAA Championships, starting on March 15 in Cleveland, Ohio.

“There’s a lot of names, a lot of ranks,” Suriano said. “I don’t get caught up with that honestly, because I’m my own person. I’m me. If I’m at my best, I don’t have to worry about them.”

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

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