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Rankings fly as No. 16 Rutgers tripped up by No.18 Nebraska

Knights pick up four individual wins, fall to Cornhuskers

Clearly, the Rutgers wrestling team did not do what it had hoped to this weekend. The No. 16 Scarlet Knights (5-4, 1-3) suffered another big loss on Sunday afternoon, falling to No. 18 Nebraska (6-3, 4-1) on the road for yet another conference loss. 

Rutgers came into the Cornhuskers' territory as hot as one could be, having crushed Hofstra 37-9 less than 48 hours before the match in Nebraska. The Knights also had an individual wrestler that was hotter than the rest, in fifth-year senior 165-pounder Richie Lewis.

Lewis, who is currently ranked at No. 12 in the 165-weight class, actually made the switch up to 165 from 157 midway through the season, while No. 18 junior 157-pounder John Van Brill made the switch down from 165.

After a monstrous 22-6 tech fall victory over the Pride’s Ricky Stamm, Lewis was set to take on Nebraska’s No. 11 Isaiah White. Coming into the match, Lewis had already secured two other ranked victories over then-No. 11 Te’Shaun Campbell of Ohio State and then-No. 13 Anthony Valencia of Arizona State.

Through two periods on the mat, White led Lewis 1-0 after a quick escape to hold the lead, although Lewis had multiple shots at Whites legs. Lewis managed a quick escape of his own, and rode out the remainder of the period to leave things tied 1-1 in regulation.

Neither side managed to score during sudden victory, so things moved on to the tiebreakers. Lewis scored another point during the first tiebreaker, and was able to stay on top through the second one to take the 2-1 upset win over White. 

The wins from this past weekend now have Lewis on a six-match win streak, and he does not think it will stop there.

Rutgers managed to get one more significant victory in Nebraska, when No. 14 fifth-year senior 184-pounder Nicholas Gravina produced a huge upset over No. 7 Taylor Venz. 

Gravina led at the end of the first period after an early takedown gave him a 2-1 lead over Venz. With a reversal and then a late takedown, Gravina took an even bigger 6-2 lead going into the final period.

Another Gravina takedown and the bonus point from riding time gave the Knights one of their biggest upsets of the season, a 9-3 win for the No. 14 ranked wrestler over No. 7.

With Rutgers up 13-7 after six matches, any of the final four could have potentially been the difference for the team, but the Knights were facing tough competition at the end.

While redshirt freshman 141-pounder Michael Van Brill lost to No. 9 Chad Red Jr. 3-1, the upset of No. 17 fifth-year senior Scott DelVecchio to an unranked Cornhusker really hurt the team.

But, in the final two matches at 149-pounds and 157-pounds, Rutgers was set up nicely, with No. 13 fifth-year senior Eleazar DeLuca and John Van Brill representing them. But Nebraska had itself ready with two ranked wrestlers of its own.

DeLuca, who earlier this season scored an upset over then-No. 5 Buckeye Ke’Shawn Hayes, was not able to get the upset this time, falling to No. 9 Colton McCrystal 7-2, giving the Cornhuskers their first lead of the match at 16-13.

With a chance to tie or even get the win, John Van Brill took the mat against No. 8 Tyler Berger. Van Brill was down throughout the match, first down 2-1 and 4-2 after two periods, but a stall call on Berger and riding time to Van Brill made it 4-4 at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately for the Knights, Berger secured a takedown in the sudden victory and took the match 6-4, leaving Rutgers with the team loss at 19-13.

With No. 1 Penn State making its way to the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) for Sunday’s sold out match, the Knights should not look at whatever ranking they are given coming off the Nebraska loss, and just pin-point where they can streak and take advantage in the toughest opponent of the season.

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

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