Biggest athletic events happening over winter break

The things that will be giving Rutgers' campus some life over the coming break are the hard-working athletes, coaches and faculty of the Athletics department. While the semester comes to a close, the winter sports season will be in full swing as the Scarlet Knights will host several high-profile sporting events before classes resume on Jan. 22. 

Men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, swimming and diving and even gymnastics will all see competitive action during the break. For any students looking to keep busy around campus before classes start again, here are the sporting events that will have the most draw to Rutgers fans over the winter. 

Women’s Basketball vs. Northwestern 

Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC)

Youth Day

Three days after Christmas, and after a 13-day break from game action, The Knights will host the Wildcats for their first Big Ten matchup of the season. Rutgers has shown modest promise during the fall semester as they have gotten off to a 6-3 start but its faceoff against Northwestern will be when the games really start to matter.

Head coach C. Vivian Stringer filled the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) earlier this season in a ceremonial night that saw the 23-year coach get her 1,000th win. She will look to make some more history in the second half of the season as the team’s campaign through Big Ten play will determine how far they make it in 2019. 

The game will be accompanied by Youth Day. Spectators in attendance will receive a free ugly holiday blanket. 

Men’s Basketball vs. No. 23 Maryland

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, the RAC

1969 Letterwinners Day

The Knights make their return to Big Ten action against the Terrapins for the first game of 2019. Head coach Steve Pikiell’s squad will get another chance to claim its first conference win after taking and losing leads to the second half against Michigan State and Wisconsin. 

If Rutgers has any intention of keeping its NCAA tournament aspirations alive, the game against Maryland will be a critical point in a season that is slowly going off the rails. This game in all likelihood will be a must-win for the Knights and a must-see for any Rutgers fans that still believe.

This game will also feature a number of other draws for fans as spectators in attendance will receive a free ugly sweater blanket. There will also be a ceremony commemorating the letterwinners of the 1969 team. 

Wrestling vs. Oklahoma State 

Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, the RAC

The Knights host two wrestling meets over winter break. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy games on No. 15 Rutgers’ (5-1) home schedule this season is against Oklahoma State, one of the country’s strongest collegiate wrestling programs.

Junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano and graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault would be draws by themselves, but new faces on the team this season have proven to be contenders worth watching as well. True freshman Stephan Glasgow has shone in the 165-pound weight class with only one loss this year and transfer junior 285-pounder Christian Colucci has made an impact in his return to his home state of New Jersey.

The Knights have never faced the No. 2 Cowboys (4-0) in their program’s history. This upcoming match will certainly prove to be a challenging one for Rutgers at home. 

Oklahoma State has claimed a collegiate wrestling-best 34 NCAA team titles while the team has achieved 154 individual champions. 

In their most recent match on Dec. 9, the Cowboys defeated in-state rival Oklahoma 41-2, its largest margin of victory in 26 seasons in the annual Bedlam Series that features the two Big 12 schools. 

Oklahoma State earned three pins against the Sooners from 125-pounder Nick Piccininni, 165-pounder Chandler Rogers and heavyweight Derek White.

Piccinni is the No. 4 wrestler in his weight class and defeated Oklahoma’s Zach Atencio in the opening minute of the match. 

Gymnastics vs. Nebraska 

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, Livingston Recreation Center

The Rutgers gymnastics team will open its 2019 season at the Livingston Recreation Center against Big Ten foe Nebraska, on Jan. 19, 2019. The Knights are led by head coach Umme Salim-Beasley in what will be her first season on the Banks.

Salim-Beasley was an assistant on the gymnastics team’s coaching staff from 2012 to 2015. She was previously the head coach for Temple, where she was the Eastern Collegiate Athletics Conference (ECAC) Coach of the Year last season. 

Last season, Rutgers sent alumni Libby Groden, Mackenzy Shank and sophomore Belle Huang to the NCAA Regionals last season, which were hosted at Penn State. In 2019, the Knights will be led by seniors Riahanah Ali, Michelle Amoresano and Jenna Rizkalla as captains of the team. 

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